Talent versus University Nurturing in Research Productivity
45 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020 Last revised: 18 May 2020
Date Written: February 3, 2020
While knowledge production is central to economic growth, little is known about how differences in research environments across universities contribute to the differences in productivity of their faculty. We analyze the productivity of researchers employed at the top-20 (top-tier) research universities and compare it to those employed by universities ranked 50-100th (second-tier). We show that only half of the variation in productivity in the early career years can be attributed to the variation in the researchers’ abilities upon PhD completion. We further find that in later career years (10-20 years after attaining a faculty position at the university), the researcher’s ability upon PhD completion explains only 10% of the variability in productivity. The results show that although talent plays a sizeable role in initial career productivity, the majority of a researcher's productivity can be attributed to the better nurturing environment that exists in top-tier compared to second-tier universities. This implies that scholars whose first affiliation is at a top-tier university have a sizeable advantage in terms of producing scholarly work compared to those employed at second-tier universities. The implication of the study is that initial job placement in skilled-based occupations has a first-order effect on overall career productivity.
Keywords: Knowledge, Nature, Nurture, Productivity, Scholarly, Science, Talent
JEL Classification: H41, I23, J24, J44
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation