When Collaboration Bridges Institutions: The Impact of University-Industry Collaboration on Academic Productivity
42 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016 Last revised: 16 Jul 2018
Date Written: June 22, 2018
Prior research suggests that academic scientists who collaborate with firms may experience lower publication rates in their collaborative lines of work due to industry’s insistence on intellectual property protection through patenting or secrecy. In contrast, we posit that university–industry collaboration can sometimes foster specialization and boost academic contribution to open science. Specifically, research lines with both scientific and commercial potential (i.e., in Pasteur’s quadrant) provide an opportunity for a productive division of tasks between academic scientists and their industry counterparts, whereby the former focus on exploiting the scientific opportunities and the latter focus on the commercial ones. The main empirical challenge of examining this proposition is that research projects that involve industry collaborators may be qualitatively different from those that do not. To address this issue, we exploit the occurrence of simultaneous discoveries where multiple scientists make roughly the same discovery around the same time. Following a simultaneous discovery, we compare the follow-on research output of academic scientists who collaborated with industry on the discovery with that of academic scientists who did not. We find that academic scientists with industry collaborators produced more follow-on publications and fewer follow-on patents than did academic scientists without industry collaborators. This effect is particularly salient when the research line has important commercial implications and when the industry partner is an established firm.
Keywords: University-Industry Collaboration; Division of Labor; Scientific Productivity; Innovation; Interorganizational Relationships; Simultaneous Discoveries; Knowledge Production
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