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Most free market theory says that a competitive environment is good for business and--in most cases--that's probably true. But, if you create a company whose future depends on developing new invention ideas, internal competition may actually thwart the creative process and impede the company's potential success. In many science-based companies, individual's have the right to obtain invention patents for their own discoveries. Or, groups of inventors can obtain a patent together. But, one drawback of this workplace environment as it relates to developing a steady stream of new products is that these employees may end up competing with each other for the patents. It's human nature to compete but internal competition will stop team work in its tracks and new ideas along with it.
Some newer companies, especially scientific and high-tech ones, have instituted new rules whereby the company receives the patent. In this case, a true sense of inventiveness and team work can flourish. And, employees in this type of company can still get lots of recognition for their ingenuity. They can attend professional conferences and present their ideas, and be published in trade journals. Whatever type of environment you create for new product development, make sure employees are held to strict confidentiality agreements in case they leave the company.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|