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Research cycles

  • Bramoullé, Yann
  • Saint-Paul, Gilles

This paper studies the dynamics of fundamental research. We develop a simple model where researchers allocate their effort between improving existing fields and inventing new ones. A key assumption is that scientists derive utility from recognition from other scientists. We show that the economy can be either in a regime where new fields are constantly invented, and then converges to a steady state, or in a cyclical regime where periods of innovation alternate with periods of exploitation. Our analysis provides a rigorous foundation to the Kuhnian theory of scientific evolution. We show that scientists' care for reputation has a strong impact on research dynamics and tends to favor innovation. Especially, innovation fads may emerge. We also study welfare and find that the academic reputational reward system can help align scientists' short-term incentives with society's long-term interests.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Theory.

Volume (Year): 145 (2010)
Issue (Month): 5 (September)
Pages: 1890-1920

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jetheo:v:145:y:2010:i:5:p:1890-1920
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  1. Acemoglu, D., 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," Working papers 97-14, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  2. Levin, Sharon G & Stephan, Paula E, 1991. "Research Productivity over the Life Cycle: Evidence for Academic Scientists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 114-32, March.
  3. Paula E. Stephan, 1996. "The Economics of Science," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1199-1235, September.
  4. Sanjeev Goyal & Marco van der Leij & José Luis Moraga Gonzales, 2004. "Economics: An Emerging Small World?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1287, CESifo Group Munich.
  5. Shleifer, Andrei, 1986. "Implementation Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(6), pages 1163-90, December.
  6. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1972. "The Valuation of Option Contracts and a Test of Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 27(2), pages 399-417, May.
  7. Jovanovic, Boyan & Rob, Rafael, 1987. "Long Waves and Short Waves: Growth Through Intensive and Extensive Search," Working Papers 87-35, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  8. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1996. "Growing Through Cycles," Discussion Papers 1203, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2005. "The economics of ideas and intellectual property," Staff Report 357, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  10. Arthur M. Diamond Jr., 1986. "What is a Citation Worth?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(2), pages 200-215.
  11. Partha, Dasgupta & David, Paul A., 1994. "Toward a new economics of science," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 487-521, September.
  12. Jovanovic, Boyan & Nyarko, Yaw, 1996. "Learning by Doing and the Choice of Technology," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(6), pages 1299-1310, November.
  13. repec:att:wimass:9707 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 1999. "A formal model of theory choice in science," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 113-130.
  15. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1996. " Research and Development in the Growth Process," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 49-73, March.
  16. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1988. "Incentives in Academics: Why Is There Tenure?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 453-72, June.
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