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Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation

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  • Ajay K. Agrawal
  • Avi Goldfarb

Abstract

We report evidence indicating that Bitnet adoption facilitated increased research collaboration between US universities. However, not all institutions benefited equally. Using panel data from seven top engineering journals, Bitnet connection records, and a variety of institution ranking data, we find that medium-ranked universities were the primary beneficiaries; they benefited largely by increasing their collaboration with top-ranked schools. Furthermore, we find that the magnitude of this effect was greatest for co-located pairs. These results suggest that the most salient effect of lowering communication costs may have been to facilitate gains from trade through the specialization of research tasks. Thus, the advent of Bitnet -- and likely subsequent versions, including the Internet -- seems to have increased the role of second-tier universities in the national innovation system as producers of new, high-quality knowledge.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12812.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Publication status: published as Ajay Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb, 2008. "Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1578-90, September.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12812

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  1. Kremer, Michael, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-75, August.
  2. Jacques Mairesse & Laure Turner, 2005. "Measurement and Explanation of the Intensity of Co-publication in Scientific Research: An Analysis at the Laboratory Level," NBER Working Papers 11172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Tanya S. Rosenblat & Markus M. Mobius, 2004. "Getting Closer or Drifting Apart?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 971-1009, August.
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  7. Paul M Romer, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2135, David K. Levine.
  8. Adair Morse, 2006. "Are elite universities losing their competitive edge?," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  9. Zucker, Lynne G & Darby, Michael R & Brewer, Marilynn B, 1998. "Intellectual Human Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 290-306, March.
  10. Han Kim, E & Morse, Adair & Zingales, Luigi, 2006. "Are Elite Universities Losing their Competitive Edge?," CEPR Discussion Papers 5700, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  1. RePEc and the democratization of research
    by Christian Zimmermann in RePEc blog on 2008-12-09 21:37:20
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