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Boundary Spanning in a For-Profit Research Lab: An Exploration of the Interface Between Commerce and Academe

42 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2010  

Toby Stuart

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Christopher Liu

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

Date Written: August 5, 2010

Abstract

In innovative industries, private-sector companies increasingly are participants in open communities of science and technology. To participate in the system of exchange in such communities, firms often publicly disclose what would otherwise remain private discoveries. In a quantitative case study of one firm in the biopharmaceutical sector, we explore the consequences of scientific publication - an instance of public disclosure - for a core set of activities within the firm. Specifically, we link publications to human capital management practices, showing that scientists’ bonuses and the allocation of managerial attention are tied to individuals’ publications. Using a unique electronic mail dataset, we find that researchers within the firm who author publications are much better connected to external (to the company) members of the scientific community. This result directly links publishing to current understandings of absorptive capacity. In an unanticipated finding, however, our analysis raises the possibility that the company’s most prolific publishers begin to migrate to the periphery of the intra-firm social network, which may occur because these individuals’ strong external relationships induce them to reorient their focus to a community of scientists beyond the firm’s boundary.

Suggested Citation

Stuart, Toby and Liu, Christopher, Boundary Spanning in a For-Profit Research Lab: An Exploration of the Interface Between Commerce and Academe (August 5, 2010). Harvard Business School Entrepreneurial Management Working Paper No. 11-012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1653876 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1653876

Toby E. Stuart (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

Christopher Liu

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

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