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Prizes and Productivity: How Winning the Fields Medal Affects Scientific Output

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  • George J. Borjas
  • Kirk B. Doran

Abstract

Knowledge generation is key to economic growth, and scientific prizes are designed to encourage it. But how does winning a prestigious prize affect future output? We compare the productivity of Fields medalists (winners of the top mathematics prize) to that of similarly brilliant contenders. The two groups have similar publication rates until the award year, after which the winners' productivity declines. The medalists begin to "play the field," studying unfamiliar topics at the expense of writing papers. It appears that tournaments can have large post-prize effects on the effort allocation of knowledge producers.

Suggested Citation

  • George J. Borjas & Kirk B. Doran, 2013. "Prizes and Productivity: How Winning the Fields Medal Affects Scientific Output," NBER Working Papers 19445, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19445
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    Cited by:

    1. Jana Gallus & Bruno S. Frey, 2016. "Awards: A strategic management perspective," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(8), pages 1699-1714, August.
    2. repec:spr:scient:v:112:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11192-017-2429-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Chan, Ho Fai & Frey, Bruno S. & Gallus, Jana & Torgler, Benno, 2014. "Academic honors and performance," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 188-204.
    4. Joao Ricardo Faria & Peter McAdam, 2014. "Does Tenure Make Researchers Less Productive? The Case of the “Specialist”," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0514, School of Economics, University of Surrey.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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