Converting technological inventions into new products: The role of CEO human capital

Shukhrat Nasirov*, Qian Cher Li, Yasemin Kor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite technological inventions being a key input to new product development, companies often struggle with commercializing new technologies via the product development route. Drawing on a sample of publicly traded U.S. manufacturing companies that spans the period 1992–2013, our study shows that CEOs play a catalytic role in the technology conversion process, but this role is highly nuanced and depends on the characteristics (generalist vs. specialist) of their human capital. Specifically, generalist CEOs tend to be better at facilitating the conversion process in companies with more diverse and/or higher quality inventions. In contrast, specialist CEOs play a catalytic role in technology conversion when companies have less diverse and/or lower quality inventions. Hence, our paper offers a solution to the technology conversion problem that consists in aligning CEO human capital characteristics with the characteristics of the company’s inventions portfolio.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)522-547
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Product Innovation management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Q. Cher Li gratefully acknowledges financial support from the PrOPEL Hub funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ES/T001771/1)


  • CEO human capital
  • new product development
  • patents
  • technology conversion
  • trademarks


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