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Key Success Drivers in Public Research Grants: Funding the Seeds of Radical Innovation in Academia?

Listed author(s):
  • Albert Banal-Estañol
  • Ines Macho-Stadler
  • David Pérez-Castrillo

We study what makes a research grant application successful in terms of ability, type of research, experience, and demographics of the applicants. But our main objective is to investigate whether public funding organizations support the teams that are most likely to undertake transformative or "radical" research. Making use of the literature on recombinant innovation, we characterize such "radical teams" as those formed by eclectic and non-usual collaborators, and those that are heterogeneous and scientifically diverse. Our results, using data from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), show that the more able, more basic, and more senior researchers, working in a top university, are more likely to be successful. But, radical teams are less likely to be funded by funding bodies. Our analysis of the research output of the awarded projects suggests that, voluntarily or involuntarily, the evaluation process in these organizations is biased against radical teams.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 5852.

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Date of creation: 2016
Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_5852
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  1. Benjamin F. Jones, 2009. "The Burden of Knowledge and the "Death of the Renaissance Man": Is Innovation Getting Harder?," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 283-317.
  2. Terttu Luukkonen, 2012. "Conservatism and risk-taking in peer review: Emerging ERC practices," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 48-60, February.
  3. Grimpe, Christoph, 2012. "Extramural research grants and scientists’ funding strategies: Beggars cannot be choosers?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1448-1460.
  4. Viner, Neil & Powell, Philip & Green, Rod, 2004. "Institutionalized biases in the award of research grants: a preliminary analysis revisiting the principle of accumulative advantage," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 443-454, April.
  5. Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Gustavo Manso, 2011. "Incentives and creativity: evidence from the academic life sciences," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(3), pages 527-554, September.
  6. Banal-Estañol, Albert & Jofre-Bonet, Mireia & Lawson, Cornelia, 2015. "The double-edged sword of industry collaboration: Evidence from engineering academics in the UK," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 1160-1175.
  7. Jasjit Singh & Ajay Agrawal, 2011. "Recruiting for Ideas: How Firms Exploit the Prior Inventions of New Hires," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(1), pages 129-150, January.
  8. Atul Nerkar, 2003. "Old Is Gold? The Value of Temporal Exploration in the Creation of New Knowledge," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(2), pages 211-229, February.
  9. Martin L. Weitzman, 1998. "Recombinant Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(2), pages 331-360.
  10. Lee, You-Na & Walsh, John P. & Wang, Jian, 2015. "Creativity in scientific teams: Unpacking novelty and impact," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(3), pages 684-697.
  11. Albert Banal-Estañol & Inés Macho-Stadler & David Pérez-Castrillo, 2011. "Research output from university-industry collaborative projects," Working Papers 2011/23, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  12. Jasjit Singh & Lee Fleming, 2010. "Lone Inventors as Sources of Breakthroughs: Myth or Reality?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(1), pages 41-56, January.
  13. Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
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