Does Too Much Work Hamper Innovation? Evidence for Diminishing Returns of Work Hours for Patent Grants


  • Mehmet G. Celbis UNU-Merit, Maastricht University
  • Serdar Turkeli Faculty of Business and Management, University of Ruse, Bulgaria


Innovation – Patents - Working Hours – Time - Neo-Capital Theories - Network Failures


This study suggests that individual time is an important factor that needs to be considered in innovation research. We define two types of time: work time and free time. We find that work time has a positive but diminishing effect on innovative output such that after a certain point the innovation-enhancing role of work time is taken over by individual free time. Using a sample of OECD countries and Russia covering the period 2000-2011, we estimate a quadratic relationship between work time and per capita innovative output. For a hypothetical economy that has no other holidays but weekends, we estimate that individuals should not work more than about 6.6 hours a day for maximizing innovative output. We also present a categorization of countries based on their innovative output and work hours that may kindle interest for certain case-specific future research.