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The Reverse Matthew Effect: Catastrophe and Consequence in Scientific Teams

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  • Ginger Zhe Jin
  • Benjamin Jones
  • Susan Feng Lu
  • Brian Uzzi
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    Abstract

    What are the individual rewards to working in teams? This question extends across many production settings but is of long-standing interest in science and innovation, where the “Matthew Effect” suggests that eminent team members garner credit for great works at the expense of less eminent team members. In this paper, we study this question in reverse, examining highly negative events – article retractions. Using the Web of Science, we investigate how retractions affect citations to the authors’ prior publications. We find that the Matthew Effect works in reverse – namely, scientific misconduct imposes little citation penalty on eminent coauthors. By contrast, less eminent coauthors face substantial citation declines to their prior work, and especially when they are teamed with an eminent author. A simple Bayesian model is used to interpret the results. These findings suggest that a good reputation can have protective properties, but at the expense of those with less established reputations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19489.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19489

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    1. Bengt Holmstrom, 1981. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Discussion Papers 471, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    2. Patrick Bajari & Ali Horta�su, 2004. "Economic Insights from Internet Auctions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 457-486, June.
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    8. Klein, Benjamin & Leffler, Keith B, 1981. "The Role of Market Forces in Assuring Contractual Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 615-41, August.
    9. Armin Falk & Andrea Ichino, 2006. "Clean Evidence on Peer Effects," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(1), pages 39-58, January.
    10. Pope, Devin G., 2009. "Reacting to rankings: Evidence from "America's Best Hospitals"," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1154-1165, December.
    11. Jeffrey L. Furman & Scott Stern, 2011. "Climbing atop the Shoulders of Giants: The Impact of Institutions on Cumulative Research," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1933-63, August.
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    Cited by:
    1. Pierre Azoulay & Jeffrey L. Furman & Joshua L. Krieger & Fiona E. Murray, 2012. "Retractions," NBER Working Papers 18499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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