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Is the University Model an Organizational Necessity? Scale and Agglomeration Effects in Science

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  • Brandt, Tasso

    () (Fraunhofer ISI)

  • Schubert, Torben

    () (CIRCLE, Lund University)

Abstract

In this paper we argue that the emergence of the dominant model of university organization, which is characterized by a large agglomeration of (often loosely affiliated) many small research groups, might have an economic explanation that relates to the features of the scientific production process. In particular, we argue that there are decreasing returns to scale on the level of the individual research groups, which prevent them from becoming to large, while we argue for positive agglomeration effects on the supra-research-group-level inside the university. As a consequence an efficient university organization would precisely consist of tying together many small individual research groups without merging them. Basing our empirical analysis on a multilevel dataset for German research institutes from four disciplines we are able to find strong support for the presence of these effects. This suggests that the emergence of the dominant model of university organization may also be the result of these particular features of the production process, where the least we can say is that this model is under the given circumstances highly efficient.

Suggested Citation

  • Brandt, Tasso & Schubert, Torben, 2012. "Is the University Model an Organizational Necessity? Scale and Agglomeration Effects in Science," Papers in Innovation Studies 2012/1, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:lucirc:2012_001
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    File URL: http://wp.circle.lu.se/upload/CIRCLE/workingpapers/201201_Brandt_Schubert.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    11. Carayol, Nicolas & Matt, Mireille, 2004. "Does research organization influence academic production?: Laboratory level evidence from a large European university," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(8), pages 1081-1102, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:schmbr:v:18:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s41464-017-0029-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Yang, Guo-liang & Rousseau, Ronald & Yang, Li-ying & Liu, Wen-bin, 2014. "A study on directional returns to scale," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 628-641.
    3. Andrea Bonaccorsi & Luca Secondi & Enza Setteducati & Alessio Ancaiani, 2014. "Participation and commitment in third-party research funding: evidence from Italian Universities," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 39(2), pages 169-198, April.
    4. Torben Schubert & Guoliang Yang, 2016. "Institutional change and the optimal size of universities," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 108(3), pages 1129-1153, September.
    5. Andrea Bonaccorsi & Cinzia Daraio & Leopold Simar, 2014. "Efficiency and economies of scale and scope in European universities. A directional distance approach," DIAG Technical Reports 2014-08, Department of Computer, Control and Management Engineering, Universita' degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza".
    6. Schubert , Torben, 2013. "Are there Scale Economies in Scientific Production? On the Topic of Locally Increasing Returns to Scale," Papers in Innovation Studies 2013/43, Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agglomeration effects; scientific production; returns to scale; university organization; efficiency;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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