NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Exploring Tradeoffs in the Organization of Scientific Work: Collaboration and Scientific Reward

Michaël Bikard, Fiona E. Murray, Joshua Gans

NBER Working Paper No. 18958
Issued in April 2013
NBER Program(s):   PR

When do scientists and other knowledge workers organize into collaborative teams and why do they do so for some projects and not others? At the core of this important organizational choice is, we argue, a tradeoff between the productive efficiency of collaboration and the credit allocation that arises after the completion of collaborative work. In this paper, we explore this tradeoff by developing a model to structure our understanding of the factors shaping researcher collaborative choices in particular the implicit allocation of credit among participants in scientific projects. We then use the annual research activity of 661 faculty scientists at one institution over a 30-year period to explore the tradeoff between collaboration and reward at the individual faculty level and to infer critical parameters in the organization of scientific work.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18958

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