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Cross Pollination in Science and Technology: The Emergence of the Nanobio Subfield

Stine Grodal

Boston University - Department of Strategy & Policy

Grid Thoma

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

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Date posted: September 15, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Grodal, Stine and Thoma, Grid, Cross Pollination in Science and Technology: The Emergence of the Nanobio Subfield (January 24, 2009). Annales d'Economie and Statistique, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1394375

Contact Information

Stine Grodal
Boston University - Department of Strategy & Policy ( email )
595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
Grid Thoma (Contact Author)
University of Camerino ( email )
School of Sciences and Technology
via del Bastione 3
Camerino, Macerata 62032
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