When birds of a feather don’t flock together: Different scientists and the roles they play in biotech R&D alliances
A firm's ability to produce high-impact innovations depends upon the nature of its R&D alliances as well as its composition of scientific human capital. The firm's scientific human capital is made up of its scientists, who produce valuable research outputs and who engage with the broader scientific community, thus helping the firm to integrate new knowledge from universities and other firms. In this paper, we examine heterogeneity within the firm's scientific human capital, emphasizing the distinct role of ‘bridging scientists’ who engage in two related but dissimilar scientific activities: patenting and publishing. Using a panel dataset of 222 firms in biotechnology between 1990 and 2000, we show that bridging scientists have a positive and significant impact on patent performance relative to other scientists within the firm. Looking closer at bridging scientists, we draw a distinction between Pasteur bridging scientists and Edison bridging scientists, with the latter having less of an orientation towards fundamental research. We show that both types of bridging scientists complement the focal firm's R&D alliances with other firms. However, Pasteur bridging scientists are substitutive with university R&D alliances while Edison bridging scientists are complementary. Our findings suggest that the composition of a firm's scientific human capital and its R&D alliances interact in subtle ways to impact patent performance.
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