CEO research orientation, organizational context, and innovation in the pharmaceutical industry

Nino van de Wal, Christophe Boone, Victor Gilsing, Bob Walrave*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This study develops and tests a comprehensive framework that explains what, when, and how CEO characteristics influence firms’ innovation outcomes in R&D-intensive industries. Empirical evidence from 109 CEOs from 87 U.S.-based pharmaceutical firms over the period 2001–2013 reveals that research-oriented CEOs – those with ability and motivation for science and technology – increase their firms’ innovation outcomes. The results indicate that the CEO–innovation relationship strongly depends on the extent of CEOs’ managerial discretion, which is shaped by the organizational context. We contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the role of CEOs in firms´ innovation performance differentials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-254
Number of pages16
JournalR and D Management
Issue number2
Early online date16 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


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