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Boundary spanning in a for-profit research lab: An exploration of the interface between commerce and academe

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Author Info

  • Christopher C. Liu

    ()
    (Rotman School of Management, Toronto, Canada)

  • Toby E. Stuart

    ()
    (Harvard Business School, Entrepreneurial Management Unit)

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    Abstract

    In innovative industries, private-sector companies increasingly are participants in open communities of science and technology. To participate in the system of exchange in such communities, firms often publicly disclose what would otherwise remain private discoveries. In a quantitative case study of one firm in the biopharmaceutical sector, we explore the consequences of scientific publication-an instance of public disclosure-for a core set of activities within the firm. Specifically, we link publications to human capital management practices, showing that scientists' bonuses and the allocation of managerial attention are tied to individuals' publications. Using a unique electronic mail dataset, we find that researchers within the firm who author publications are much better connected to external (to the company) members of the scientific community. This result directly links publishing to current understandings of absorptive capacity. In an unanticipated finding, however, our analysis raises the possibility that the company's most prolific publishers begin to migrate to the periphery of the intra-firm social network, which may occur because these individuals' strong external relationships induce them to reorient their focus to a community of scientists beyond the firm's boundary.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 11-012.

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    Length: 42 pages
    Date of creation: Aug 2010
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:11-012

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    Cited by:
    1. Haeussler, Carolin & Sauermann, Henry, 2013. "Credit where credit is due? The impact of project contributions and social factors on authorship and inventorship," Research Policy, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 688-703.
    2. Nicola Lacetera & Lorenzo Zirulia, 2011. "Individual Preferences, Organization, and Competition in a Model of R&D Incentive Provision," NBER Working Papers 17031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Cui, Victor & Ding, Waverly W. & Yanadori, Yoshio, 2011. "Compensation Structure and the Creation of Exploratory Knowledge in Technology Firms," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley qt4f7671kn, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.

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