In Good Company: The Influence of Peers on Industry Engagement by Academic Scientists

41 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2011 Last revised: 31 Mar 2014

See all articles by Valentina Tartari

Valentina Tartari

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics

Markus Perkmann

Imperial College Business School

Ammon Salter

University of Bath - School of Management

Date Written: March 3, 2014

Abstract

Previous research on academic entrepreneurship and engagement with industry has found that the behaviour of academics is influenced by their local social context. However, we know little about the mechanisms that produce this effect. We argue that academic scientists’ industry engagement is influenced significantly by the behaviour of their peers, that is, the behaviour of colleagues of similar seniority. Using insights from social psychology, we hypothesize that these peer effects are produced by the mechanism of social comparison. In an analysis of data from multiple sources for 1,370 UK academic scientists and engineers, we find that peer effects are stronger for early career individuals and weaker for star scientists, suggesting the incidence of social comparison. We argue that individuals look to their immediate peers for inspiration, because they view them as an important reference group and use them as a benchmark for their own ambitions and behaviours. Our findings have important implications for how universities may encourage scientists’ behaviours by paying attention to local work contexts.

Keywords: University-industry relations, academic engagement, commercialization, scientists, peer effects

Suggested Citation

Tartari, Valentina and Perkmann, Markus and Salter, Ammon, In Good Company: The Influence of Peers on Industry Engagement by Academic Scientists (March 3, 2014). Research Policy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1598456 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1598456

Valentina Tartari (Contact Author)

Copenhagen Business School - Department of Innovation and Organizational Economics ( email )

Kilevej 14A
Frederiksberg, 2000
Denmark

Markus Perkmann

Imperial College Business School ( email )

London, SW7 2AZ
United Kingdom

Ammon Salter

University of Bath - School of Management ( email )

Claverton Down
Bath, BA2 7AY
United Kingdom

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