Based on an established theoretical framework of the drivers of inventive performance, the so-called KSAO (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, and Other) factors, this paper seeks to explain empirically the performance of inventors throughout their careers. We combine survey information spanning the inventors' entire careers and psychometric test evidence, with patent history data for more than 1,000 inventors. We also control for variables that have traditionally been included in estimations of inventive performance such as inventor age and a broad list of applicant institution-, technology-, patent-, and period-related information. We show that educational level, skills acquired during the career, personality traits, career motivations, cognitive abilities, and cognitive problem-solving style are significantly related to inventive performance.

Zwick, Thomas, Katharina Frosch, Karin Hoisl und Dietmar Harhoff (2015), The Power of Individual-Level Drivers of Inventive Performance, ZEW Discussion Paper No. 15-080, Mannheim, erschienen in: Research Policy 46 (1), 121-137. Download


Zwick, Thomas
Frosch, Katharina
Hoisl, Karin
Harhoff, Dietmar


Inventive performance; individual drivers; patent history; survey