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Research Cycles

  • Bramoullé, Yann
  • Saint-Paul, Gilles

This paper studies the dynamics of fundamental research. We develop a simple model where researchers allocate their effort between improving existing fields and inventing new ones. A key assumption is that scientists derive utility from recognition from other scientists. We show that the economy can be either in a regime where new fields are constantly invented, and then converges to a steady state, or in a cyclical regime where periods of innovation alternate with periods of exploitation. Our analysis provides a rigorous foundation to the Kuhnian theory of scientific evolution. We show that scientists' care for reputation has a strong impact on research dynamics and tends to favor innovation. Especially, innovation fads may emerge. We also study welfare and find that the academic reputational reward system can help align scientists' short-term incentives with society's long-term interests.

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Paper provided by Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 422.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Publication status: Published in Journal of Economic Theory, vol. 145, n. 5, September 2010, p. 1890-1920.
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:5500
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  1. Acemoglu, Daron, 1997. "Why Do New Technologies Complement Skills? Directed Technical Change and Wage Inequality," CEPR Discussion Papers 1707, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Levin, Sharon G & Stephan, Paula E, 1991. "Research Productivity over the Life Cycle: Evidence for Academic Scientists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 114-32, March.
  3. Aghion, Philippe & Howitt, Peter, 1996. "Research and Development in the Growth Process," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 49-73, March.
  4. Kiminori Matsuyama, 1996. "Growing Through Cycles," Discussion Papers 1203, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Boyan Jovanovic & Rafael Rob, 1990. "Long Waves and Short Waves: Growth Through Intensive and Extensive Search," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2082, David K. Levine.
  6. Arthur M. Diamond Jr., 1986. "What is a Citation Worth?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(2), pages 200-215.
  7. Sanjeev Goyal & Marco van der Leij & Jose Luis Moraga, 2004. "Economics: An Emerging Small World?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-001/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Shleifer, Andrei, 1986. "Implementation Cycles," Scholarly Articles 3451303, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 1999. "A formal model of theory choice in science," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 14(1), pages 113-130.
  10. Boyan Jovanovic & Yaw Nyarko, 1994. "Learning By Doing and the Choice of Technology," NBER Working Papers 4739, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Partha, Dasgupta & David, Paul A., 1994. "Toward a new economics of science," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 487-521, September.
  12. Paula E. Stephan, 1996. "The Economics of Science," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1199-1235, September.
  13. Black, Fischer & Scholes, Myron S, 1972. "The Valuation of Option Contracts and a Test of Market Efficiency," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 27(2), pages 399-417, May.
  14. Michele Boldrin & David K. Levine, 2005. "The economics of ideas and intellectual property," Staff Report 357, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  15. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1988. "Incentives in Academics: Why Is There Tenure?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 453-72, June.
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