Temporary Colocation and Collaborative Discovery: Who Confers at Conferences
The flow of knowledge is closely linked to proximity. While extensive works show that long-term geographic proximity affects work behavior, little is known about the effect of short-term collocation, such as conferences. Using participant data at Gordon Research Conferences, we estimate difference-in-differences and instrumental variable models, which show that attendees who have no prior within-conference collaborations are more likely to collaborate with other attendees, and that the researchers who have worked previously with other attendees are more likely to continue their collaborations. We also find that researchers who are junior, are located closer to the conference venue, and have established prior ties to the conference draw more collaborative benefits from temporary collocation across organizations. Thus, going to a conference alters the creation of collaborations.
We would like to thank the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Beckman Library for the travel grant to access the Gordon Research Conferences’ attendance data and the Research Program on the Economics of Knowledge Contribution and Distribution, funded by the Sloan Foundation, for supporting this work. We are appreciative of the comments we received from Sujin Jang, Matthew Lee, Anoop Menon, Matthew Marx, Anca Metiu, Valery Yakubovich, Anil Doshi, and Luciana Silvestri, participants of the REER 2013 conference and the 2014 HBS TOM Alumni Workshop. We are also grateful to Marissa Suchyta and Sifan Zhou for their research assistance. All errors remain our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Sen Chai & Richard B. Freeman, 2019. "Temporary colocation and collaborative discovery: Who confers at conferences," Strategic Management Journal, vol 40(13), pages 2138-2164. citation courtesy of