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The role of search in university productivity: inside, outside, and interdisciplinary dimensions

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  • James D. Adams
  • J. Roger Clemmons

Abstract

Due to improving information technology, the growing complexity of research problems, and policies designed to foster interdisciplinary research, the practice of science in the United States has recently undergone significant structural change. Using a sample of 110 top US universities observed during the late 20th century we find that knowledge flows, both in total and in their major components, are a significant and positive determinant of research output. Outside knowledge-flows from other universities have increased at a faster rate than inside flows from the same university. Over time, the importance of outside flows for research output has risen, and it has done so at a faster rate than the importance of inside flows has decreased. Thus the overall contribution of knowledge-flows has increased and has shifted towards outside flows. Turning to knowledge-flows by field, we find that interdisciplinary knowledge-flows have increased only slightly relative to same field flows, despite policy initiatives that favor interdisciplinary research. Moreover, the importance of interdisciplinary flows for research output, while positive and statistically highly significant, has stayed about the same, even as same field flows have become more important, probably because of growth in cyber infrastructure. Although a final verdict is yet to be reached, one interpretation is that interdisciplinary research is still in its early stages. While interdisciplinary flows have begun to increase, the resulting discoveries, and their influence on subsequent research, may still lie in the future. Copyright 2011 The Author 2011. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Associazione ICC. All rights reserved., Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • James D. Adams & J. Roger Clemmons, 2011. "The role of search in university productivity: inside, outside, and interdisciplinary dimensions," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(1), pages 215-251, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:20:y:2011:i:1:p:215-251
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/icc/dtq071
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    Cited by:

    1. Diego Chavarro & Puay Tang & Ismael Rafols, 2014. "Interdisciplinarity and research on local issues: evidence from a developing country," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 195-209.
    2. repec:bla:kyklos:v:70:y:2017:i:4:p:546-564 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Mohammadi, Ali & Broström, Anders & Franzoni, Chiara, 2015. "Work Force Composition and Innovation: How Diversity in Employees’ Ethnical and Disciplinary Backgrounds Facilitates Knowledge Re-combination," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 413, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
    4. Bäker, Agnes, 2015. "Non-tenured post-doctoral researchers’ job mobility and research output: An analysis of the role of research discipline, department size, and coauthors," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 634-650.
    5. Cristiano Antonelli & Chiara Franzoni & Aldo Geuna, 2011. "The Contributions of Economics to a Science of Science Policy," Chapters,in: Science and Innovation Policy for the New Knowledge Economy, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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