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Virtuous Circles of Productivity: Star Bioscientists and the Institutional Transformation of Industry

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  • Lynne G. Zucker
  • Michael R. Darby

Abstract

The most productive (`star') bioscientists possessed intellectual human capital of extraordinary scientific and pecuniary value for some 10-15 yrs after Cohen & Boyer's 1973 founding discovery for biotechnology. This extraordinary value was due to the union of still scarce knowledge of the new research techniques and genius to apply these techniques in valuable ways. As in other sciences, star bioscientists were particularly protective of their ideas in the early years of the revolution, tending to collaborate more within their own institution which slowed diffusion to other scientists. Therefore, close, bench-level working ties between stars and firm scientists were needed to accomplish commercialization of the breakthroughs. Where and when the star scientists were actively producing academic publications is a key determinant of where and when commercial firms began to use biotechnology. The extent of collaboration by a firm's scientists with stars is a powerful predictor of its success: for each 9 articles co-authored by an academic star and firm scientists about 3 more products in development, 1 more on the market and 1550 more employees are estimated. Such collaboration with firms, or employment, also results in significantly higher rates of citation to articles written with the firm. The U.S. scientific and economic infrastructure has been quite effective in fostering and commercializing the bioscientific revolution. To provide an indication of international competitiveness, we estimate stars' distribution, commercial involvement and migration across the top 10 countries in bioscience. These results let us inside the black box to see how scientific breakthroughs become economic growth and consider the implications for policy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5342.

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Date of creation: Nov 1995
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Publication status: published as Lynne G. Zucker and Michael R. Darby, “Virtuous Circles in Science and Commerce,” Papers in Regional Science, August 2007, 86(3): 445-471.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5342

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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  2. Nicola Lacetera, 2009. "Academic entrepreneurship," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(7), pages 443-464.
  3. Xia, Yin & Buccola, Steven T., 2001. "Are Basic Science And Biotechnology Complementary Activities?," 2001 Annual meeting, August 5-8, Chicago, IL 20575, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  4. Meyer, Martin, 2006. "Are patenting scientists the better scholars?: An exploratory comparison of inventor-authors with their non-inventing peers in nano-science and technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1646-1662, December.
  5. Nicolas Schmitt & Antoine Soubeyran, 2005. "A Simple Model of Brain Circulation," CESifo Working Paper Series 1484, CESifo Group Munich.
  6. Fini, Riccardo & Lacetera, Nicola & Shane, Scott, 2010. "Inside or outside the IP system? Business creation in academia," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(8), pages 1060-1069, October.
  7. Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2003. "Are Faculty Critical? Their Role in University-Industry Licensing," Emory Economics 0320, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  8. Lim, Kwanghui, 2004. "The relationship between research and innovation in the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries (1981-1997)," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 287-321, March.
  9. Baba, Yasunori & Shichijo, Naohiro & Sedita, Silvia Rita, 2009. "How do collaborations with universities affect firms' innovative performance? The role of "Pasteur scientists" in the advanced materials field," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 756-764, June.
  10. Jonathan Eaton & Eva Gutierrez & Samuel Kortum, 1998. "European Technology Policy," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 87, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  11. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby & Yusheng Peng, 1998. "Fundamentals or Population Dynamics and the Geographic Distribution of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises, 1976-1989," NBER Working Papers 6414, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Dirk Engel & Oliver Heneric, 2006. "Stimuliert der BioRegio-Wettbewerb die Ansiedlung neuer Biotechnologieunternehmen? —Ergebnisse einer ökonometrischen Analyse," Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 75-102, March.

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