Unveiling the Impact of Going Private on Corporate Innovation

The impact of going private on corporate innovation
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In corporate finance, the transition from public to private status represents a pivotal shift with profound implications for innovation. My research, conducted for the Swedish House of Finance, offers a comprehensive analysis of this transition’s impact on corporate innovation activities. By examining firms that underwent privatization against those that remained public after receiving privatization offers, we utilized patent-based metrics to gauge the innovation landscape. Our findings reveal a notable expansion in the scale and quality of innovation post-privatization, highlighting a surge in influential patents. Contrary to common expectations, the involvement of private equity (PE) firms in these transactions does not significantly outperform non-PE acquisitions in boosting innovation. This evidence, rooted in agency theory predictions, underscores the beneficial effects of going private on the innovation performance of listed firms. For a deeper dive into our research and its implications for both academia and industry practitioners, I encourage you to read the full paper available here.

Key Findings and Implications

Enhanced Scale and Quality of Innovation: Our analysis shows a clear uptick in both the scale and quality of innovation for firms transitioning from public to private. This is particularly evident in the more significant innovations and influential patents produced in the years following privatization.

The Role of Private Equity: Interestingly, our study finds that the specific type of acquirer, whether a PE firm or a non-PE entity, does not materially influence the innovation performance post-privatization. This challenges the common narrative surrounding the unique value-add of PE firms in fostering innovation.

Theoretical and Practical Insights: The findings lend strong support to agency theories, suggesting that the reduction in public market pressures and the alignment of interests in private settings can create a more conducive environment for innovation. This has important implications for policymakers, corporate strategists, and investors considering the broader impact of privatization on corporate innovation dynamics.

Leveraging the Foretell Method for Strategic Innovation

In reflecting on these insights, it becomes clear that the strategic foresight and agile action embodied in the Foretell Method can serve as a powerful guide for businesses navigating the complexities of going private. By anticipating the potential for enhanced innovation performance, companies can make informed decisions that align with their long-term strategic goals, ultimately driving successful innovation and strategic growth.

The transition from public to private status, therefore, is not just a financial maneuver but a strategic move with the potential to unlock new horizons of innovation. As we continue to explore the nuances of this transition, the Foretell Method offers a structured approach to harness these insights for foresight-driven transformation, guiding businesses toward a future where innovation thrives.


For businesses looking to navigate the complexities of corporate transitions and innovation, Foretell provides strategic insights and practical solutions to harness the potential of these changes for sustainable growth. Discover how the Foretell Method can help your business innovate and grow in an ever-changing landscape.

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Ali is an associate professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation with a rich background in research focused on entrepreneurial innovation and management. This includes areas like venture capital investment, start-up innovation, intellectual property management, and technology commercialization strategies.