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The purpose of this paper is to investigate how the pay gap between the management and ordinary employees influence corporate technology innovation.Design/methodology/approachThis study built a tournament model based on inventor innovation and career promotion. In addition, the authors use IV-GMM estimation method to address the possible endogeneity issue in the regressions.FindingsBased on the unbalanced panel data of patents and pay gap in 1,501 Chinese listed manufacturing firms during 2001-2015, this paper finds that the pay gap could lead inventor innovation and improve technology innovation. The pay gap could encourage corporate innovation significantly: 1 percent increase in pay gap may increase the number of patents by 2 percent in the next year. The pay gap between the management and ordinary employees facilitates corporate innovation via two possible channels. First, inventor innovation and career promotion. Inventors are selected into the management mainly based on their innovation output. The larger the pay gap, the more innovation incentives and patents would gain. Second, investment increase in technology innovation. The pay gap and more patents that inventors gain would increase the ratio of inventors promoted to the management, who tend to pour more resources into R&D activities and absorb more inventors to the management due to their sectionalism and R&D preference. The above two channels constitute a positive feedback mechanism among technology innovation, inventor promotion and increase in R&D investment.Research limitations/implicationsThis paper highlights that pay gap between the management and ordinary employees is an important issue that could encourage corporate innovation. The conclusions imply that pay gap could encourage inventors to work hard and produce more patents, which could help them to enter into the management such as executives or directors.Originality/valueThis study contributes to the current literature by implying that pay gap could have positive effects on innovation through theoretical and empirical analysis. Also, this study finds that inventor promotion due to the pay gap is a critical channel to stimulate corporate technology innovation.
China Finance Review International – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 16, 2019
Keywords: Technology innovation; Inventor; Pay gap; Promotion channel; O31; D33; G34
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