The impact of knowledge diversity on inventive performance at European universities
The diversity of knowledge and skills is considered to be good for scientific inquiry. We challenge this general statement by analyzing to what extent the diversity in knowledge background of research teams affects their inventive performance. Using patent data assigned to 60 European universities in the fields of chemistry and pharmaceuticals, a research team is defined as a group of inventors on a patent application. Team's scientific knowledge is assessed with their publication records and inventive performance with the number of forward patent citations. Two types of diversity are considered :(i) diversity in joint research experience (i.e. share of publications co-authored among team members in the total publication output of the team) and (ii) diversity in scientific disciplines (i.e. dispersion of team's knowledge across scientific disciplines). Results reveal an inverted U-shaped relationship between the diversity in joint research experience and team's inventive performance. Results confirm that diversity in scientific disciplines improves inventing performance of the team. However, teams composed of a generalist researchers with an overlap in their disciplinary background outperform teams composed of specialists.
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