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Tools or Toys? The Impact of High Technology on Scholarly Productivity

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh
  • Sharon M. Oster

We examine the impact of communication technology on scholarly productivity by considering patterns of coauthored economics articles. Using articles in three major economics journals from 1970--79 and 1992--96, we find (1) sharp growth from distant coauthorships (authors not in the same metropolitan area prior to publication), as the theory predicts, and, contrary to theory, (2) lower productivity of distant than close-coauthored works and no decline in their relative disadvantage. These findings are reconciled by noting that high technology has aspects of a consumer good. The relative productivity of solo-authored articles has decreased, perhaps explaining the secular increase in coauthorship. Copyright 2002, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Western Economic Association International in its journal Economic Inquiry.

Volume (Year): 40 (2002)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 539-555

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Handle: RePEc:oup:ecinqu:v:40:y:2002:i:4:p:539-555
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  1. Trajtenberg, Manuel, 1989. "The Welfare Analysis of Product Innovations, with an Application to Computed Tomography Scanners," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(2), pages 444-79, April.
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  6. Zvi Griliches, 1958. "Research Costs and Social Returns: Hybrid Corn and Related Innovations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 419.
  7. Sharon M. Oster & Daniel S. Hamermesh, 1998. "Aging And Productivity Among Economists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 154-156, February.
  8. Catherine J. Morrison, 2000. "Assessing The Productivity Of Information Technology Equipment In U.S. Manufacturing Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(3), pages 471-481, August.
  9. Dasgupta, Partha, 1988. "Patents, Priority and Imitation or, the Economics of Races and Waiting Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(389), pages 66-80, March.
  10. Lazear, Edward P, 1999. "Globalisation and the Market for Team-Mates," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C15-40, March.
  11. McDowell, John M & Smith, Janet Kiholm, 1992. "The Effect of Gender-Sorting on Propensity to Coauthor: Implications for Academic Promotion," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(1), pages 68-82, January.
  12. Sauer, Raymond D, 1988. "Estimates of the Returns to Quality and Coauthorship in Economic Academia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(4), pages 855-66, August.
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