Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation

Ajay K. Agrawal, Avi Goldfarb

NBER Working Paper No. 12812
Issued in December 2006
NBER Program(s):   PR

We report evidence indicating that Bitnet adoption facilitated increased research collaboration between US universities. However, not all institutions benefited equally. Using panel data from seven top engineering journals, Bitnet connection records, and a variety of institution ranking data, we find that medium-ranked universities were the primary beneficiaries; they benefited largely by increasing their collaboration with top-ranked schools. Furthermore, we find that the magnitude of this effect was greatest for co-located pairs. These results suggest that the most salient effect of lowering communication costs may have been to facilitate gains from trade through the specialization of research tasks. Thus, the advent of Bitnet -- and likely subsequent versions, including the Internet -- seems to have increased the role of second-tier universities in the national innovation system as producers of new, high-quality knowledge.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w12812

Published: Ajay Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb, 2008. "Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1578-90, September. citation courtesy of

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