Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=2126890
 


 



Microgeography and the Direction of Inventive Activity


Christian Catalini


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

December 2, 2016

Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 2126890

Abstract:     
I provide novel empirical evidence grounded in an original theoretical framework to explain why co-location matters for the rate, direction and quality of scientific collaboration. To address endogeneity concerns due to selection into co-location and matching, I exploit the constraints imposed on the spatial allocation of labs on the Jussieu campus of Paris by the removal of asbestos from its buildings. Consistent with search costs constituting a major friction to collaboration, co-location increases the likelihood of joint research by 3.5 times, an effect that is mostly driven by lab pairs that face higher search costs ex-ante. Furthermore, separation does not negatively affect collaboration between previously co-located labs. However, while co-located labs grow increasingly similar in topics and literature cited, separated ones embark on less correlated research trajectories. Research outcomes, instead, seem to be mostly influenced by how execution costs increase with distance: after co-location, labs are more likely to pursue both lower quality projects (a selection effect), as well as high quality ones (an effort effect). Opposite effects on quality are observed after separation. Whereas search costs affect which scientists are likely to collaborate together, execution costs shape the quality of their output.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

Keywords: co-location, idea recombination, collaboration, search costs, microgeography, low-opportunity cost time.

JEL Classification: O33, O31, R11, Z13


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Date posted: August 10, 2012 ; Last revised: December 3, 2016

Suggested Citation

Catalini, Christian, Microgeography and the Direction of Inventive Activity (December 2, 2016). Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 2126890. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2126890 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2126890

Contact Information

Christian Catalini (Contact Author)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )
100 Main Street
E62-480
Cambridge, MA MA 02142
United States
HOME PAGE: http://mitsloan.mit.edu/faculty-and-research/faculty-directory/detail/?id=58777
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