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CEOs scientific background and firm innovation: evidence from China

Irfan Ullah (School of Finance, Jiangxi Normal University, Nanchang, China)
Mohib Ur Rahman (Department of Economics, University of Buner, Buner, Pakistan)
Aurang Zeb (Quaid-e-Azam College of Commerce, University of Peshawar, Peshawar, Pakistan)

International Journal of Innovation Science

ISSN: 1757-2223

Article publication date: 26 February 2024




This study aims to inspect the impact of Chief Executive Officers’ (CEOs) education in a “specific field,” such as CEOs with science and engineering backgrounds on firms’ innovation. Based on agency theory, this study also reports how an endogenous factor, i.e. CEOs’ compensation, and an exogenous factor such as intellectual property rights (IPR), moderate the CEOs with a scientific background (CEOSB)-innovation relationship.


This study uses a sample of Chinese nonfinancial firms listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges from 2008 to 2018 by applying the ordinary least squares regression method. To deal with the endogeneity issues, this study also performs a series of additional tests.


The results indicate that the effects of CEOSB on the firm innovation activities are positive and significant. Further, this study finds that CEOs’ compensation and IPR protection positively and significantly moderate the CEOSB-innovation relationship. These outcomes are robust to a series of additional tests.

Research limitations/implications

The results of this study have valuable implications for various stakeholders interested in stimulating innovation. To sum up, the results of this study inculcate these stakeholders that the enhancement of firm innovation is contingent on the appropriate selection of CEOs, effective compensation packages and IPR regulations.


Distinct from the existent studies, the focus of the study is on the perspectives of CEOs’ scientific backgrounds. Further, based on agency theory, this study also reports how CEOs’ compensation and IPR protection moderate the CEOSB-innovation relationship, which has not been tested earlier to our knowledge, especially in the context of an emerging economy like China.



Since submission of this article, the following author has updated their affiliations: Aurang Zeb is at the School of Accounting, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics, Dalian, China.


Ullah, I., Rahman, M.U. and Zeb, A. (2024), "CEOs scientific background and firm innovation: evidence from China", International Journal of Innovation Science, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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