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Collaboration Structure and Information Dilemmas in Biotechnology: Organizational Boundaries as Trust Production

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  • Lynne G. Zucker
  • Michael R. Darby
  • Marilynn B. Brewer
  • Yusheng Peng

Abstract

Scientists who make breakthrough discoveries can receive above- normal returns to their intellectual capital, with returns depending on the degree of natural excludability - that is, whether necessary techniques can be learned through written reports or instead require hands-on experience with the discovering scientists or those trained by them in their laboratory. Privatizing discoveries, then, only requires selecting trusted others as collaborators, most often scientists working in the same organization. Within organizational boundaries, incentives become aligned based on repeat and future exchange, coupled with third-party monitoring and enforcement. We find that high value intellectual capital paradoxically predicts both a larger number of collaborators and more of that network contained within the same organization. Specifically, same-organization collaboration pairs are more likely when the value of the intellectual capital is high: both are highly productive 'star' scientists, both are located in top quality bioscience university departments, or both are located in a firm (higher ability to capture returns). Collaboration across organization boundaries, in contrast, is negatively related to the value of intellectual capital and positively related to the number of times the star scientist has moved. Organizational boundaries act as information envelopes: The more valuable the information produced, the more its dissemination is limited. In geographic areas where a higher proportion of coauthor pairs come from the same organization, diffusion to new collaborators is retarded.

Suggested Citation

  • Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby & Marilynn B. Brewer & Yusheng Peng, 1995. "Collaboration Structure and Information Dilemmas in Biotechnology: Organizational Boundaries as Trust Production," NBER Working Papers 5199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5199
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby & Marilynn B. Brewer, 1994. "Intellectual Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises," NBER Working Papers 4653, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Darby, Michael R. & Lott, John Jr., 1989. "Qualitative information, reputation, and monopolistic competition," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 87-103, June.
    3. Coase, R H, 1988. "The Nature of the Firm: Origin," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 3-17, Spring.
    4. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-938, July.
    5. Geertz, Clifford, 1978. "The Bazaar Economy: Information and Search in Peasant Marketing," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 28-32, May.
    6. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
    7. Klein, Benjamin & Crawford, Robert G & Alchian, Armen A, 1978. "Vertical Integration, Appropriable Rents, and the Competitive Contracting Process," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(2), pages 297-326, October.
    8. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby & Jeff Armstrong, 1994. "Intellectual Capital and the Firm: The Technology of Geographically Localized Knowledge Spillovers," NBER Working Papers 4946, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby, 1996. "Costly Information in Firm Transformation, Exit, or Persistent Failure," NBER Working Papers 5577, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Norio Sawabe & Susumu Egashira, 2007. "The knowledge management strategy and the formation of innovative networks in emerging industries," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 17(3), pages 277-298, June.
    3. Zucker, Lynne G. & Darby, Michael R. & Armstrong, Jeff, 1994. "Inter-Institutional Spillover Effects in the Commercialization of Bioscience," Institute for Social Science Research, Working Paper Series qt4d96f3xh, Institute for Social Science Research, UCLA.
    4. Han, Xue & Niosi, Jorge, 2016. "Star scientists in PV technology and the limits of academic entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 1707-1711.
    5. Lynne G. Zucker & Michael R. Darby, 1995. "Social Construction of Trust to Protect Ideas and Data in Space Science and Geophysics," NBER Working Papers 5373, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Nicola Lacetera, 2003. "Incentives and spillovers in R&D activities: an agency-theoretic analysis of industry-university relations," Microeconomics 0312004, EconWPA.
    7. Frédérique Six, 2007. "Building interpersonal trust within organizations: a relational signalling perspective," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 11(3), pages 285-309, September.
    8. Traore, Namatie & Rose, Antoine, 2003. "Determinants of biotechnology utilization by the Canadian industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1719-1735, December.
    9. Tolbert, Pamela S. & Zucker, Lynne G., 1994. "Institutional Analyses of Organizations: Legitimate but not Institutionalized," Institute for Social Science Research, Working Paper Series qt23z6m92c, Institute for Social Science Research, UCLA.
    10. Julia Porter Liebeskind & Amalya Lumerman Oliver & Lynne G. Zucker & Marilynn B. Brewer, 1995. "Social Networks, Learning, and Flexibility: Sourcing Scientific Knowledge in New Biotechnology Firms," NBER Working Papers 5320, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Michael R. Darby & Lynne G. Zucker & Andrew Wang, 2003. "Universities, Joint Ventures, and Success in the Advanced Technology Program," NBER Working Papers 9463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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