A Taste for Science? PhD Scientists’ Academic Orientation and Self-Selection into Research Careers in Industry

42 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2010 Last revised: 29 Oct 2015

See all articles by Michael Roach

Michael Roach

Cornell University

Henry Sauermann

ESMT European School of Management and Technology; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 6, 2010

Abstract

Recent research on industrial and academic science draws on the notion that academically trained scientists have a strong “taste for science”. However, little attention has been paid to potential heterogeneity in researchers’ taste for science and to potential selection effects into careers in industry versus academia. Using survey data from over 400 science and engineering PhD students, we examine the extent to which PhD students’ taste for science (e.g., desire for independence, publishing, peer recognition, and interest in basic research) and other individual characteristics predict preferences for research careers in industry versus academia. Our results suggest that PhD students who prefer industrial employment show a weaker “taste for science”, a greater concern for salary and access to resources, and a stronger interest in downstream work compared to PhD students who prefer an academic career. Our findings have important implications for innovation research as well as for managers and policy makers.

Suggested Citation

Roach, Michael and Sauermann, Henry, A Taste for Science? PhD Scientists’ Academic Orientation and Self-Selection into Research Careers in Industry (June 6, 2010). Research Policy, Vol. 39, No. 3, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1621309

Michael Roach

Cornell University ( email )

Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management
SC Johnson College of Business
Ithaca, NY
United States

Henry Sauermann (Contact Author)

ESMT European School of Management and Technology ( email )

Schlossplatz 1
10117 Berlin
Germany

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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