Top management team’s innovation-related characteristics and the firm’s explorative R&D: An analysis based on patent data

Chul Lee, Gunno Park, Klaus Marhold, Jina Kang

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


This study investigates the relationship between characteristics of the firm’s top management team (TMT) and its research and development (R&D) activities. Specifically, this research analyzes how observable characteristics of the TMT, such as functional experiences or educational background, and average tenure affect the firm’s proportion of explorative R&D activities. From the perspective of the upper-echelon theory, we hypothesize that the TMT’s functional experiences with R&D or science or engineering educational backgrounds increase the firm’s tendency towards explorative R&D. Moreover, we propose that the average tenure of TMT members with innovation-related experiences would have a positive moderation effects on these relationships. The hypotheses are tested using a dataset containing biographical information of the TMT members, financial, and patent data of 89 firms in U.S. high-tech industries from 2006 to 2009. Firm’s explorative R&D activities are analyzed using data on patent citations, patent classes, and non-patent references. The empirical analysis shows that the top managers’ educational background in science or engineering as well as their previous functional experiences with R&D have a positive effect on the firm’s explorative innovation activities. We also find that the size of these effects increases with a longer tenure of these TMT members. Our findings provide implications related to the effects of organizational characteristics on the establishment of a R&D strategy and highlight the role of TMT members with innovative experiences in directing a firm’s R&D activities and outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639 - 663
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502015 Innovation management
  • 211

Cite this