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Movement of Star Scientists and Engineers and High-Tech Firm Entry

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  • Lynne G. Zucker
  • Michael R. Darby

Abstract

This paper analyzes the effects of top nanoscale scientists on industry entry in the comparative context of 5 major areas of science and technology, extending the concept of star scientist to all areas of science and technology. The results for nanotechnology are replicated using the comprehensive list of firms from NanoBank.org that provide an alternative industry entry measure not available for other high-tech fields. We follow careers 1981-2004 for 5,401 stars as identified in ISIHighlyCited.comSM, using their publication history to locate them each year. The number of stars in a U.S. region or in one of the top-25 science and technology countries generally has a consistently significant and quantitatively large positive effect on the probability of firm entry in the same area of science and technology. Other measures of academic knowledge stocks have weaker and less consistent effects. Thus the stars themselves rather than their potentially disembodied discoveries play a key role in the formation or transformation of high-tech industries. We identify separate economic geography effects in poisson regressions for the 179 BEA-defined U.S. regions, but not for the 25 countries analysis. Stars become more concentrated over time, moving from areas with relatively few peers to those with many in their discipline. A counter-flow operating on the U.S. versus the other 24 countries is the tendency of foreign-born American stars to return to their homeland when it develops sufficient strength in their area of science and technology. In contrast high impact articles and university articles and patents all tend to diffuse, becoming more equally distributed over time.

Suggested Citation

  • Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby, 2006. "Movement of Star Scientists and Engineers and High-Tech Firm Entry," NBER Working Papers 12172, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12172 Note: PR
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:fth:harver:1473 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Michael L. Darby & Lynne G. Zucker, 2010. "Grilichesian Breakthroughs: Inventions of Methods of Inventing and Firm Entry in Nanotechnology," NBER Chapters,in: Contributions in Memory of Zvi Griliches, pages 143-164 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Patent Statistics as Economic Indicators: A Survey," NBER Chapters,in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 287-343 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups

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