Networks as sponges: International collaboration for developing nanomedicine in China
Previous research tended to emphasize the benefits of international collaboration. This emphasis has led to a common belief that international collaboration will necessarily enhance productivity in science, innovativeness, and even societal impact. Yet, benefits and costs are relative. Economic actors and scientists do not perceive benefits in the same way in all contexts, and there are situational barriers to overcome for materializing the benefits of collaboration. This study examines the case of Chinese science actors who develop medical applications with nanotechnology, and highlights the “barriers to networks” when scientists attempt to collaborate overseas for an emerging technology. I present my findings with the metaphors of “pipes”, “prisms”, and “sponges”, and propose a framework for evaluating the utility of international collaborative networks.
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