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Social Influence Given (Partially) Deliberate Matching: Career Imprints in the Creation of Academic Entrepreneurs

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  • Pierre Azoulay

    () (Columbia University, Columbia Business School)

  • Christopher C. Liu

    () (Harvard Business School)

  • Toby E. Stuart

    () (Harvard Business School, Entrepreneurial Management Unit)

Abstract

Actors often match with associates on a small set of dimensions that matter most for the particular relationship at hand. In so doing, they are exposed to unanticipated social influences because counterparts have more interests, attitudes, and preferences than would-be associates considered when they first chose to pair. This implies that some apparent social influences (those tied to the rationales for forming the relationship) are endogenous to the matching process, while others (those that are incidental to the formation of the relationship) may be conditionally exogenous, thus enabling causal estimation of peer effects. We illustrate this idea in a new dataset tracking the training and professional activities of academic biomedical scientists. In qualitative and quantitative analyses, we show that scientists match to their postdoctoral mentors based on two dominant factors, geography and scientific focus. They then adopt their advisers' orientations toward commercial science as evidenced by the transmission of patenting behavior, but they do not match on this dimension. We demonstrate this in two-stage models that adjust for the endogeneity of the matching process, using a modification of propensity score estimation and a sample selection correction with valid exclusion restrictions. Furthermore, we draw on qualitative accounts of the matching process recorded in oral histories of the career choices of the scientists in our data. All three methods-qualitative description, propensity score estimators, and those that tackle selection on unobservable factors-are potential approaches to establishing evidence of social influence in partially endogenous networks, and they may be especially persuasive in combination.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Azoulay & Christopher C. Liu & Toby E. Stuart, 2009. "Social Influence Given (Partially) Deliberate Matching: Career Imprints in the Creation of Academic Entrepreneurs," Harvard Business School Working Papers 09-136, Harvard Business School.
  • Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:09-136
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    Cited by:

    1. Jillian D. Chown & Christopher C. Liu, 2015. "Geography and power in an organizational forum: Evidence from the U.S. Senate Chamber," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 177-196, February.
    2. Ranganathan, Aruna, 2015. "Lost in Translation: Organizational Practices and Formal Employment of Women in India," Research Papers 3363, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.

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