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The Implications of Educational and Methodological Background for The Career Success of Nobel Laureates: Looking at Major Awards


  • Ho Fai Chan
  • Benno Torgler


Nobel laureates have achieved the highest recognition in academia, reaching the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding. Owing to past research, we have a good understanding of the career patterns behind their performance. Yet, we have only limited understanding of the factors driving their recognition with respect to major institutionalized scientific honours. We therefore look at the award life cycle achievements of the 1901 to 2000 Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine. The results show that Nobelists with a theoretical orientation are achieving more awards than laureates with an empirical orientation. Moreover, it seems their educational background shapes their future recognition. Researchers educated in Great Britain and the US tend to generate more awards than other Nobelists although there are career pattern differences. Among those, laureates educated at Cambridge or Harvard are more successful in Chemistry, those from Columbia and Cambridge excel in Physics, while Columbia educated laureates dominate in Physiology or Medicine.

Suggested Citation

  • Ho Fai Chan & Benno Torgler, 2013. "The Implications of Educational and Methodological Background for The Career Success of Nobel Laureates: Looking at Major Awards," CREMA Working Paper Series 2013-13, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  • Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2013-13

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hendrik P. van Dalen, 1999. "The Golden Age of Nobel Economists," The American Economist, Sage Publications, vol. 43(2), pages 19-35, October.
    2. Ho Fai Chan & Bruno S. Frey & Jana Gallus & Benno Torgler, 2013. "Does the John Bates Clark Medal boost subsequent productivity and citation success?," ECON - Working Papers 111, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    3. Benno Torgler & Marco Piatti, 2011. "A Century of American Economic Review," Working Papers 2011.27, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    4. Fabian Waldinger, 2012. "Peer Effects in Science: Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 838-861.
    5. David W. Johnston & Marco Piatti & Benno Torgler, 2013. "Citation success over time: theory or empirics?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 95(3), pages 1023-1029, June.
    6. Ho Fai Chan & Laura Gleeson & Benno Torgler, 2014. "Awards before and after the Nobel Prize: A Matthew effect and/or a ticket to one’s own funeral?," Research Evaluation, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(3), pages 210-220.
    7. Herbert A. Simon & Massimo Egidi & Ricardo Viale & Robin Marris, 1992. "Economics, Bounded Rationality and the Cognitive Revolution," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 409.
    8. Hirsch, Barry T, et al, 1984. "Economics Departmental Rankings: Comment [Economics Departmental Rankings: Research Incentives, Constraints, and Efficiency]," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(4), pages 822-826, September.
    9. Cox, Raymond A K & Chung, Kee H, 1991. "Patterns of Research Output and Author Concentration in the Economics Literature," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(4), pages 740-747, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. João R. Faria & Franklin G. Mixon & Kamal P. Upadhyaya, 2016. "Human capital, collegiality, and stardom in economics: empirical analysis," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 106(3), pages 917-943, March.
    2. Ho Fai Chan & Ali Sina Önder & Benno Torgler, 2015. "Do Nobel laureates change their patterns of collaboration following prize reception?," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 105(3), pages 2215-2235, December.

    More about this item


    Nobel Prize; Nobel Laureates; Awards; Recognition; Educational Background; Theory; Empirics; Chemistry; Physics; Physiology or Medicine;

    JEL classification:

    • M52 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Compensation and Compensation Methods and Their Effects
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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