The Role of Relative Performance in Inter-firm Mobility of Inventors

Francesco Di Lorenzo*, Paul Almeida

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    Prior research has emphasized the influence of inter-firm mobility on knowledge flows and innovation, yet we have an incomplete picture of the antecedents of inventor mobility. Building on theoretical traditions related to decision-making based on limited, asymmetric, bounded information, and economic and other incentives, our paper suggests that after controlling for individual performance and other variables previously shown to affect inter-organizational mobility, an inventor's performance relative to his co-patenting group alters his likelihood of mobility. Our analysis of 2648 inventors in the pharmaceutical industry shows that for those performing above their reference group (of past and current co-inventors in patenting), an increase in relative performance decreases the likelihood of mobility, and for those performing below the reference group, a decrease in relative performance decreases the likelihood of mobility. We also find that when inventors have more external scientific collaborations, their likelihood of mobility increases and this variable moderates the relationship between the performance gap and mobility, but only for those performing above their peers.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalResearch Policy
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)1162-1174
    Number of pages13
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Inter-organizational mobility
    • Relative performance
    • Innovative performance
    • Reference group
    • External collaborations
    • Pharmaceutical industry

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