NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Death of the Salesman, but not the Sales Force: Reputational Entrepreneurship and the Valuation of Scientific Achievement

Pierre Azoulay, J. Michael Wahlen, Ezra W. Zuckerman Sivan

NBER Working Paper No. 24591
Issued in May 2018
NBER Program(s):Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

Using citations as a measure of valuation and death as a shock that affects efforts to "sell" scientific work but not the quality of the work itself, we estimate the importance of "reputational entrepreneurship" on the valuation of life scientists' research. Insofar as reputational entrepreneurship is impactful, it is unclear whether the most effective reputational entrepreneurs are those selling their own work ("salesman") or those promoting the work of others (the "sales force"). While the salesman has more incentive to promote her work, the sales force is larger and may be seen as more credible. We find that by commemorating the death of a scientist, the sales force boosts the valuation of the deceased's work relative to what the salesman could have done had she remained alive. This suggests that while science seeks to divorce the researcher's identity from their work, scientists' identities nonetheless play an important role in determining scientific valuations.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24591

 
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