Enforceability of Noncompetition Agreements and Firm Innovation: Does State Regulation Matter?
In this study, we examine how noncompetition agreements and the mobility of human capital – a core asset of any firm – affect innovations of publicly traded firms in the United States. We find that firms in states with stricter noncompetition enforcement have fewer patent applications. We also examine patent forward citations and find that tougher enforcement of such contracts is associated with less innovative patents. Notably, we find that stronger enforcement of noncompetition agreements impedes innovation for firms facing intense industry labor mobility. High-powered, equity-based compensation positively moderates the relationship between noncompetition enforcement and innovation, but only for the quality of innovation.