NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Alex Oettl

Scheller College of Business
Georgia Institute of Technology
800 West Peachtree Street, NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
Tel: 404.385.4570

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org

NBER Working Papers and Publications

July 2014Collaboration, Stars, and the Changing Organization of Science: Evidence from Evolutionary Biology
with Ajay Agrawal, John McHale
in The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy, Adam B. Jaffe and Benjamin F. Jones, editors
The concentration of research output is declining at the department level but increasing at the individual level. For example, in evolutionary biology, from 1980 to 2000, the fraction of citation-weighted publications produced by the top 20% of departments falls from approximately 75% to 60% but rises for the top 20% of individual scientists from 70% to 80%. This may be due to changing patterns of collaboration, perhaps caused by the rising burden of knowledge and the falling cost of communication, which increase the returns to collaboration. We find that the propensity to collaborate is rising over time and the nature of collaboration is changing. The geographic distance and the difference in institution rank between collaborators is increasing. The relative size of the pool of potential ...
March 2014Why Stars Matter
with Ajay K. Agrawal, John McHale: w20012
The growing peer effects literature pays particular attention to the role of stars. We decompose the causal effect of hiring a star in terms of the productivity impact on: 1) co-located incumbents and 2) new recruits. Using longitudinal university department-level data we report that hiring a star does not increase overall incumbent productivity, although this aggregate effect hides offsetting effects on related (positive) versus unrelated (negative) colleagues. However, the primary impact comes from an increase in the average quality of subsequent recruits. This is most pronounced at mid-ranked institutions, suggesting implications for the socially optimal spatial organization of talent.
November 2013Collaboration, Stars, and the Changing Organization of Science: Evidence from Evolutionary Biology
with Ajay Agrawal, John McHale: w19653
We report a puzzling pair of facts concerning the organization of science. The concentration of research output is declining at the department level but increasing at the individual level. For example, in evolutionary biology, over the period 1980 to 2000, the fraction of citation-weighted publications produced by the top 20% of departments falls from approximately 75% to 60% but over the same period rises for the top 20% of individual scientists from 70% to 80%. We speculate that this may be due to changing patterns of collaboration, perhaps caused by the rising burden of knowledge and the falling cost of communication, both of which increase the returns to collaboration. Indeed, we report evidence that the propensity to collaborate is rising over time. Furthermore, the nature of col...

Published: Collaboration, Stars, and the Changing Organization of Science: Evidence from Evolutionary Biology, Ajay Agrawal, John McHale, Alexander Oettl. in The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy, Jaffe and Jones. 2015

January 2012Why are Some Regions More Innovative than Others? The Role of Firm Size Diversity
with Ajay K. Agrawal, Iain M. Cockburn, Alberto Galasso: w17793
Large labs may spawn spin-outs caused by innovations deemed unrelated to the firm's overall business. Small labs generate demand for specialized services that lower entry costs for others. We develop a theoretical framework to study the interplay of these two localized externalities and their impact on regional innovation. We examine MSA-level patent data during the period 1975-2000 and find that innovation output is higher where large and small labs coexist. The finding is robust to across-region as well as within-region analysis, IV analysis, and the effect is stronger in certain subsamples consistent with our explanation but not the plausible alternatives.
 
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