Designers as Determinant for Aesthetic Innovations

Author: Cecilie Bryld Fjællegaard (Copenhagen Business School), Karin Beukel (University of Copenhagen) and Lars Alkaersig (Technical University of Denmark)

Aesthetic innovations are increasingly becoming an important appropriation mechanism for firms. During the last ten years the growth of design patent applications (protection covering aesthetic innovations) has tripled, while both patent and trademark applications have “only” doubled. During the same period, design patents have also been main IP at stake in IP litigations, for example in the smart phone industry. However, in contrast to firms growing interest in aesthetic innovations, our current knowledge of the determinants hereto is limited. Labor mobility studies in innovation has mainly focused at explaining how scientists are core ingredients in creating technological innovations. This paper investigates adds to labor mobility and innovation studies by examining whether the same story is true when we consider mobility of designers and aesthetic innovations? We explore a unique dataset containing information on firms, their hiring of designers and aesthetic innovations measured by design applications (design patents). Our findings show that hiring a designer does increase firms’ likelihood of producing aesthetic innovations. Hence, designers are determinant for aesthetic innovations. However, the firm needs prior experience in registering design rights in order to fully benefit from the hiring of a designer.

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