Collaboration Dynamics of R&D Teams: Theory and Experiment

25 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2020 Last revised: 22 Feb 2021

Date Written: October 20, 2020


I explore the dynamics of collaboration between two agents when one is incumbent with well-known ability (resources) and another is an entrant with unobservable ability (resources). If the incumbent is a low-ability type and learns the collaborator’s type based on history, then accumulating the reputation of being a high-ability type will lead to a breakup of the partnership in every equilibrium. If the incumbent is a high-ability type, collaboration is sustainable. However, a low-ability entrant shirks on the equilibrium path, so the first-best outcome is not attainable. I conduct an experiment and find that reputation-building might hinder collaboration.

Keywords: R&D teams, Reputation, free-riding

JEL Classification: C91, D82, D83

Suggested Citation

Khubulashvili, Robizon, Collaboration Dynamics of R&D Teams: Theory and Experiment (October 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Robizon Khubulashvili (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States

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