Scientific Teams and Institution Collaborations: Evidence from U.S. Universities, 1981-1999

45 Pages Posted: 24 Aug 2004 Last revised: 17 Feb 2015

See all articles by James D. Adams

James D. Adams

Dept of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Grant C. Black

University of Missouri at Saint Louis - Center for Entrepreneurship & Economic Education

Roger Clemmons

University of Florida - Institute for Child Health Policy

Paula E. Stephan

Georgia State University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: July 2004

Abstract

This paper explores recent trends in the size of scientific teams and in institutional collaborations. The data derive from 2.4 million scientific papers written in 110 leading U.S. research universities over the period 1981-1999. We measure team size by the number of authors on a scientific paper. Using this measure we find that team size increases by 50 percent over the 19-year period. We supplement team size with measures of domestic and foreign institutional collaborations, which capture the geographic dispersion of team workers. The time series evidence suggests that the trend towards larger and more dispersed teams accelerates at the start of the 1990s. This acceleration suggests a sudden decline in the cost of collaboration, perhaps due to improvements in telecommunications. Using a panel of top university departments we find that private universities and departments whose scientists have earned prestigious awards participate in larger teams, as do departments that have larger amounts of federal funding. Placement of former graduate students is a key determinant of institutional collaborations, especially collaborations with firms and foreign scientific institutions. Finally, the evidence indicates that scientific influence increases with team size and institutional collaborations. Since increasing team size implies an increase in the division of labor, these results suggest that scientific productivity increases with the scientific division of labor.

Suggested Citation

Adams, James D. and Black, Grant C. and Clemmons, J. Roger and Stephan, Paula E., Scientific Teams and Institution Collaborations: Evidence from U.S. Universities, 1981-1999 (July 2004). NBER Working Paper No. w10640. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=579787

James D. Adams (Contact Author)

Dept of Economics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute ( email )

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Grant C. Black

University of Missouri at Saint Louis - Center for Entrepreneurship & Economic Education ( email )

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J. Roger Clemmons

University of Florida - Institute for Child Health Policy ( email )

P.O. Box 100147
Gainesville, FL 32610-0147
United States

Paula E. Stephan

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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