Take Flight for Innovation

21 Feb, 2017

Impact

Take Flight for Innovation

If you want a more creative corporate culture, hire a CEO whose hobby is flying small aircraft.

That’s a lighthearted takeaway from a serious academic study conducted by scholars from McGill University and the University of Arizona and published in the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Financial Economics.

Working with Federal Aviation Administration filings, the researchers discovered that firms led by CEOs who are pilots “generate significantly better innovation outcomes measured by patents and associated citations and pursue more diverse and original patents.”

The connection seems to be that “sensation seeking” business leaders are also bigger risk-takers, and risk is associated with creativity and innovation.

Sensation Seekers

The connection seems to be that “sensation-seeking” business leaders are also bigger risk-takers, and risk is associated with creativity and innovation. Sensation seekers also are inclined to adopt flying planes as a hobby.

Earlier research indicated as much: A 2011 study featured in the Harvard Business Review found that successful innovators like novel experiences “and piloting new ideas” — pun very much intended.