The Extra-Organizational Determinants of Innovation: Sunshine Exposure and Inventor Performance
66 Pages Posted: 24 May 2016 Last revised: 17 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 18, 2019
We propose that extra-organizational factors such as exposure to sunshine are an important driver of innovators’ performance. Prior research highlights the critical role non-pecuniary factors play in influencing inventors’ productivity, yet most of these studies focus on organizational and job attributes and the resulting job satisfaction. We argue, by contrast, that, by triggering positive affective states, sunshine exposure enhances creativity, leading to greater quantity and quality of innovative output. We test our hypotheses using information on every patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office from 1976 to 2010, together with information on the sunshine exposure for each inventor. We find evidence suggesting that relative sunshine exposure results in more patents and patents of higher quality. Our results further suggest that greater sunshine exposure leads to patents that are more original, and which build on non-local knowledge and newly-developed technologies. Alternative explanations related to geographical heterogeneity, managerial decisions, migration, and time allocation are not supported. Improved creativity and initiative at work are identified as the mechanisms through extra-organizational factors (i.e., sunshine) that stimulate inventor performance. We present novel evidence on the non-pecuniary determinants of inventor productivity and the real effects of positive affect on economies.
Keywords: mood; inventor performance; innovation; creativity
JEL Classification: G39, J33, M52, O31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation