Beneficiary contact and innovation: The relation between contact with patients and medical innovation under different institutional logics

Oscar Llopis, Pablo D’Este
Research Policy

The recent policy agenda to enhance translational research in biomedicine emphasizes the need to promote interactions among all the actors involved in the medical innovation process. While patients are generally acknowledged to be a critical source to facilitate medical innovation, there is little empirical evidence on the relation between direct contact with patients and medical innovation. Drawing on organizational psychology and institutional theory research, we propose that contact with beneficiaries is likely to enhance scientists’ propensity to engage in innovation activities, and that the intensity of this relation is contingent on the institutional setting in which actors are embedded. Our study is based on a large-scale survey of biomedical scientists in Spain. Our findings show an inverted U-shaped relationship between contact with patients and participation in medical innovation. We also observe that the effect of contact with patients varies depending on the institutional logic in which scientists are embedded: our results show that the positive relation between contact with patients and innovation is particularly pronounced for scientists who are embedded in a science logic compared to a care logic.