Cross Pollination in Science and Technology: The Emergence of the Nanobio Subfield
Boston University - Department of Strategy & Policy
University of Camerino
January 24, 2009
Annales d'Economie and Statistique, Forthcoming
The emergence of new research based organizational fields drives both scientific progress and economic growth. The emergence of fields necessitates a movement of knowledge between participants within the field, but little is known about the drivers and dynamics of knowledge diffusion within emerging fields. Research has shown that cross-pollination of knowledge plays an important role in innovative processes. However, these studies investigated cross-pollination at the team or individual level or through case-studies of individual technologies while assuming that cross-pollination occurred between concepts. In this paper we move the unit of analysis to the level of the individual concept, and investigate how the cross-pollination of concepts influences concept mobility. The paper, thus, extends the literature’s consideration of the impact of cross-pollination on innovative outcomes to investigating how cross-pollination influences knowledge dynamics. Our setting is the cross-pollination of knowledge between nanotechnology and biotechnology, which yielded the new subfield nanobiotechnology. Drawing on a large dataset of publications, patents and press-releases between 1991 and 2005 we track how 133,128 concepts move from science to technology and commercialization. We find strong support for the hypothesis that cross-pollination facilitates concept mobility. Scientists who reside in commercial firms generally assist the mobility of concepts, but hinder the mobility of cross-pollinated concepts. Furthermore, if a patent contains cross-pollinated concepts it is more valuable. This paper contributes to our understanding of how cross-pollination influences the mobility of concepts between institutional contexts, and thus augments our understanding of the commercialization process.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33
Keywords: Technology, Science, Commercialization, Cross-Pollination
Date posted: September 15, 2010
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