Collaboration Structure and Information Dilemmas in Biotechnology: Organizational Boundaries as Trust Production

42 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2000 Last revised: 18 Nov 2014

See all articles by Lynne G. Zucker

Lynne G. Zucker

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Michael R. Darby

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Global Economics and Management (GEM) Area; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marilynn B. Brewer

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Psychology

Yusheng Peng

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: July 1995

Abstract

Scientists who make breakthrough discoveries can receive above- normal returns to their intellectual capital, with returns depending on the degree of natural excludability - that is, whether necessary techniques can be learned through written reports or instead require hands-on experience with the discovering scientists or those trained by them in their laboratory. Privatizing discoveries, then, only requires selecting trusted others as collaborators, most often scientists working in the same organization. Within organizational boundaries, incentives become aligned based on repeat and future exchange, coupled with third-party monitoring and enforcement. We find that high value intellectual capital paradoxically predicts both a larger number of collaborators and more of that network contained within the same organization. Specifically, same-organization collaboration pairs are more likely when the value of the intellectual capital is high: both are highly productive 'star' scientists, both are located in top quality bioscience university departments, or both are located in a firm (higher ability to capture returns). Collaboration across organization boundaries, in contrast, is negatively related to the value of intellectual capital and positively related to the number of times the star scientist has moved. Organizational boundaries act as information envelopes: The more valuable the information produced, the more its dissemination is limited. In geographic areas where a higher proportion of coauthor pairs come from the same organization, diffusion to new collaborators is retarded.

Suggested Citation

Zucker, Lynne G. and Darby, Michael R. and Brewer, Marilynn B. and Peng, Yusheng, Collaboration Structure and Information Dilemmas in Biotechnology: Organizational Boundaries as Trust Production (July 1995). NBER Working Paper No. w5199. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=225262

Lynne G. Zucker (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) ( email )

405 Hilgard Avenue
Box 951361 Departments of Sociology and Policy Studies 2201 Hershey mc 155107
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310-825-3227 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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Michael R. Darby

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Global Economics and Management (GEM) Area ( email )

110 Westwood Plaza
Box 951481
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
United States
310-825-4180 (Phone)
310-454-2748 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Marilynn B. Brewer

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Psychology

1885 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Yusheng Peng

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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