Laboratory Safety and Research Productivity

64 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2023 Last revised: 26 Jun 2023

See all articles by Alberto Galasso

Alberto Galasso

University of Toronto - Strategic Management

Hong Luo

Harvard Business School - Strategy Unit

Brooklynn Zhu

BI Norwegian Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2023

Abstract

Are laboratory safety practices a tax on scientific productivity? We examine this question by exploiting the substantial increase in safety regulations at the University of California following the shocking death of a research assistant in 2008. Difference-in-differences analyses show that relative to “dry labs” that use theoretical and computational methods, the publication rates of “wet labs” that conduct experiments using chemical and biological substances did not change significantly after the shock. At the same time, we find that wet labs that used dangerous compounds more frequently before the shock reduced their reliance on flammable materials and unfamiliar hazardous compounds afterward, even though their overall research agenda does not appear to be affected. Our findings suggest that laboratory safety may shape the production of science, but they do not support the claim that safety practices impose a significant tax on research productivity.

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Suggested Citation

Galasso, Alberto and Luo, Hong and Zhu, Brooklynn, Laboratory Safety and Research Productivity (June 2023). NBER Working Paper No. w31313, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4469055 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4469055

Alberto Galasso (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Strategic Management ( email )

Canada

Hong Luo

Harvard Business School - Strategy Unit ( email )

Harvard Business School
Soldiers Field Road
Boston, MA 02163
United States

Brooklynn Zhu

BI Norwegian Business School ( email )

Nydalsveien 37
Oslo, 0442
Norway

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