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Exploring the Relationship Between Scientist Human Capital and Firm Performance: The Case of Biomedical Academic Entrepreneurs in the SBIR Program

  • Andrew A. Toole


    (Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901)

  • Dirk Czarnitzki


    (Department of Managerial Economics, Strategy, and Innovation and Steunpunt O& O Indicatoren, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium; and Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), 68161 Mannheim, Germany)

There is an emerging debate in the scholarly literature regarding the extent to which academic human capital contributes to firm performance. This debate centers on the nature of an academic scientist's human capital and its institutional specificity. Using data on the human capital of biomedical scientists developed during their careers in academe, this paper analyzes how the depth of their scientifically and commercially oriented academic human capital contributes to firm performance when these scientists subsequently start or join for-profit firms. We find that the scientific and commercial components of an academic scientist's human capital have differential effects on the performance of research and invention tasks at the firm. We also find that the contribution of an academic scientist to a firm's patent productivity is decreasing with the depth of their scientifically oriented human capital, all else constant. These results support the view that academic human capital is heterogeneous and has an institutional specificity that mediates its value when applied in a commercialization environment.

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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 55 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 101-114

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:55:y:2009:i:1:p:101-114
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