Marilynn B. Brewer

Ohio State University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

October 1995Social Networks, Learning, and Flexibility: Sourcing Scientific Knowledge in New Biotechnology Firms
with Julia Porter Liebeskind, Amalya Lumerman Oliver, Lynne G. Zucker: w5320
We examine how two highly successful new biotechnology firms (NBFs) source their most critical input -- scientific knowledge. We find that scientists at the two NBFs enter into large numbers of collaborative research efforts with scientists at other organizations, especially universities. Formal market contracts are rarely used to govern these exchanges of scientific knowledge. Our findings suggest that the use of boundary-spanning social networks by the two NBFs increases both their learning and their flexibility in ways that would not be possible within a self-contained hierarchical organization.


  • Starbuck, William H. and Suzanne G. Tilleman. (eds.) Organizational Learning and Knowledge Management. Volume 3. Learning by Populations of Organizations, Elgar Reference Collection. International Library of Critical Writings on Business and Management, vol. 9. Cheltenham, U.K. and Northampton, Mass.: Elgar, 2008.
  • Julia Porter Liebeskind & Amalya Lumerman Oliver & Lynne Zucker & Marilynn Brewer, 1996. "Social networks, Learning, and Flexibility: Sourcing Scientific Knowledge in New Biotechnology Firms," Organization Science, vol 7(4), pages 428-443.

July 1995Collaboration Structure and Information Dilemmas in Biotechnology: Organizational Boundaries as Trust Production
with Lynne G. Zucker, Michael R. Darby, Yusheng Peng: w5199
Scientists who make breakthrough discoveries can receive above- normal returns to their intellectual capital, with returns depending on the degree of natural excludability - that is, whether necessary techniques can be learned through written reports or instead require hands-on experience with the discovering scientists or those trained by them in their laboratory. Privatizing discoveries, then, only requires selecting trusted others as collaborators, most often scientists working in the same organization. Within organizational boundaries, incentives become aligned based on repeat and future exchange, coupled with third-party monitoring and enforcement. We find that high value intellectual capital paradoxically predicts both a larger number of collaborators and more of that network cont...

Published: Kramer, Roderick M. and Tom R. Tyler (eds.) Trust in Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 1996.

February 1994Intellectual Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises
with Lynne G. Zucker, Michael R. Darby: w4653
We examine the relationship between the intellectual capital of scientists making frontier discoveries, the presence of great university bioscience programs, the presence of venture capital firms, other economic variables, and the founding of U.S. biotechnology enterprises during 1976-1989. Using a linked cross-section/time- series panel data set, we find that the timing and location of the birth of biotech enterprises is determined primarily by intellectual capital measures, particularly the local number of highly productive 'star' scientists actively publishing genetic sequence discoveries. Great universities are likely to grow and recruit star scientists, but their effect is separable from the universities. When the intellectual capital measures are included in our poisson regressions...

Published: American Economic Review, vol. 88, no. 1, March 1998. pp. 290-306

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