The Collaboration Credit Premium and the Case of Detrimental Collaborations: Evidence from Economics
38 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2019
Date Written: July 18, 2019
We explore the relationship between collaboration and credit allocation in creative work. A large literature has examined how collaborators split credit for joint work, but this literature has generally viewed credit allocation among collaborators as a zero-sum game. In contrast, we posit that under specific conditions, one should expect credit for joint work to be split in a way that sums up to more than 100% — a phenomenon which we refer to as the “collaboration credit premium.” Under these conditions, we argue that individuals might have an incentive to collaborate even when collaboration decreases the quality of output. We test these propositions by examining the collaboration strategies of economists in academia. To address endogeneity issues, we take advantage of the norm of alphabetical name ordering on scientific articles published in economics journals. This norm means that economists whose family name begins with a letter from the beginning of the alphabet receive systematically more credit for collaborative work than economists whose family name begins with a letter from the end of the alphabet. Using this systematic difference in credit allocation as an instrument, we show that the collaboration credit premium can lead to the formation of collaborations that have a detrimental effect on the quality of output. Overall, our results emphasize that the spread of collaboration in creative work raises major challenges with the allocation of credit.
Keywords: Collaboration, Credit Allocation, Creativity, Credit Premium, Innovation
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