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Why Stars Matter

Author

Listed:
  • Ajay K. Agrawal
  • John McHale
  • Alex Oettl

Abstract

The growing peer effects literature pays particular attention to the role of stars. We decompose the causal effect of hiring a star in terms of the productivity impact on: 1) co-located incumbents and 2) new recruits. Using longitudinal university department-level data we report that hiring a star does not increase overall incumbent productivity, although this aggregate effect hides offsetting effects on related (positive) versus unrelated (negative) colleagues. However, the primary impact comes from an increase in the average quality of subsequent recruits. This is most pronounced at mid-ranked institutions, suggesting implications for the socially optimal spatial organization of talent.

Suggested Citation

  • Ajay K. Agrawal & John McHale & Alex Oettl, 2014. "Why Stars Matter," NBER Working Papers 20012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20012
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w20012.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kim, E. Han & Morse, Adair & Zingales, Luigi, 2009. "Are elite universities losing their competitive edge?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 353-381, September.
    2. Ajay Agrawal & Avi Goldfarb, 2008. "Restructuring Research: Communication Costs and the Democratization of University Innovation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1578-1590, September.
    3. 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 114-132, March.
    4. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
    5. Fabian Waldinger, 2012. "Peer Effects in Science: Evidence from the Dismissal of Scientists in Nazi Germany," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(2), pages 838-861.
    6. Alexander Oettl, 2012. "Reconceptualizing Stars: Scientist Helpfulness and Peer Performance," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(6), pages 1122-1140, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:kap:jtecht:v:42:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10961-016-9494-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Azoulay, Pierre & Ganguli, Ina & Graff Zivin, Joshua, 2017. "The mobility of elite life scientists: Professional and personal determinants," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 573-590.
    3. Ajay Bhaskarbhatla & Deepak Hegde & Thomas (T.L.P.R.) Peeters, 2017. "Human Capital, Firm Capabilities, and Innovation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-115/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    4. Ajay Agrawal & John McHale & Alexander Oettl, 2014. "Collaboration, Stars, and the Changing Organization of Science: Evidence from Evolutionary Biology," NBER Chapters,in: The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy, pages 75-102 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • 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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