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Superstar Extinction

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  • Pierre Azoulay

    (MIT Sloan School of Management and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

  • Joshua S. Graff Zivin

    (University of California, San Diego, and National Bureau of Economic Research.)

  • Jialan Wang

    (MIT Sloan School of Management.)

Abstract

We estimate the magnitude of spillovers generated by 112 academic "superstars" who died prematurely and unexpectedly, thus providing an exogenous source of variation in the structure of their collaborators' coauthorship networks. Following the death of a superstar, we find that collaborators experience, on average, a lasting 5% to 8% decline in their quality-adjusted publication rates. By exploring interactions of the treatment effect with a variety of star, coauthor, and star/coauthor dyad characteristics, we seek to adjudicate between plausible mechanisms that might explain this finding. Taken together, our results suggest that spillovers are circumscribed in idea space, but less so in physical or social space. In particular, superstar extinction reveals the boundaries of the scientific field to which the star contributes-the "invisible college." (c) 2010 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology..

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File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1162/qjec.2010.125.2.549
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 125 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 549-589

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:125:y:2010:i:2:p:549-589

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  1. Azoulay, Pierre & Stellman, Andrew & Zivin, Joshua Graff, 2006. "PublicationHarvester: An open-source software tool for science policy research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 970-974, September.
  2. Benner, Mary & Waldfogel, Joel, 2008. "Close to you? Bias and precision in patent-based measures of technological proximity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(9), pages 1556-1567, October.
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