Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics

No 08-2002: Trade secret laws, labor mobility, and innovations

Massimo Motta and Thomas Rønde
Additional contact information
Massimo Motta: European University Institute, Florence, Postal: European University Institute, , Department of Economics, , via dei Roccettini9, , I-50016 San Domenico di Fiesole (FI), Italy
Thomas Rønde: University of Mannheim, Postal: University of Mannheim, Copenhagen Business School, and C.E.P.R., London

Abstract: We show that when the researcher’s (observable but not contractible) contribution

to innovation is crucial, a covenant not to compete (CNC) reduces e.ort and profits

under both spot and relational contracts. Having no CNC allows the researcher to

leave for a rival. This alleviates a commitment problem by forcing the firm to reward

a successful researcher. However, if the firm’s R&D investment mainly matters,

including a CNC in the contract is optimal, as it ensures the firm’s incentives to


Keywords: Innovation; intellectual property rights; labor contracts; poaching; relational contracts; start-ups

JEL-codes: J30; K20; L14; O31; O34

34 pages, September 1, 2002

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