The Impact of Acquisitions on Inventors' Turnover in the Biotechnology Industry

Authors: Luca Verginer, Federica Parisi, Jeroen van Lidth de Jeude and Massimo Riccaboni

arXiv (2022)

Abstract

In high-tech industries, where intellectual property plays a crucial role, the acquisition of intangible assets and employees' tacit knowledge is an integral part of the motivation for Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As). Following the molecular biology revolution, the wave of takeovers in the biotechnology industry in the Nineties is a well-known example of M&As to absorb new knowledge. The retention of critical R&D employees embodying valuable knowledge and potential future innovation is uncertain after an acquisition. While not all employees might be relevant for the success of the takeover, inventors are among the most valuable. This is especially true for the acquisition of an innovative start-up. This paper estimates how likely an inventor working for an acquired biotechnology company will leave. We find that inventors affected by acquisitions are 20% more likely to leave the company by a difference-in-differences approach matching both firms and inventors.