Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 135–157 | Cite as

Do incentive systems spur work motivation of inventors in high tech firms? A group-based perspective

  • Nathalie Lazaric
  • Alain Raybaut
Regular Article


In this paper, we explore with a model the potential tensions between the incentive system of groups of inventors and knowledge diversity in a high tech firm. We show that, when all groups are rewarded and able to interact freely with their peers, extrinsic and intrinsic motives are mutually self-reinforcing, leading to crowding in effects. As a result, the level of created knowledge increases in each group, reinforcing the diversity of the firm’s knowledge base. By contrast, competitive rewards and constrained autonomy are likely to produce motivating effects in a small number of groups, limiting knowledge creation to the firm’s core competencies. In this case, the firm can suffer from crowding out effects by the other groups, leading eventually to the extinction of creation in their fields and reduced diversity in the long run. The results are illustrated with empirical findings from a case study of a French high tech firm.


Work motivation Groups of inventors Knowledge creation Knowledge diversity 

JEL Classification

O31 O32 L20 D83 J30 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GREDEG, CNRS/University of Nice Sophia AntipolisValbonneFrance

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