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Social Construction of Trust to Protect Ideas and Data in Space Science and Geophysics

Author

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  • Lynne G. Zucker
  • Michael R. Darby

Abstract

This paper applies a rational action/economic sociology approach to the central organizational theory question of whether action is embedded in pre-formed institutions that are relatively cheap in terms of time and energy, or to what extent action becomes embedded in newly constructed institutions that are more costly but perhaps better adapted to task goals. We develop a new model of the social construction of trust-producing social structure based on the initial endowment of this structure, the demand for it, and the cost of social construction. We test the model with data on construction of social structure in collaborations in space science and geophysics developed in a large number of interviews conducted by the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics. We do find that greater pre-existing endowment reduces social construction of new institutions while greater demand for trust increases that construction. We also find some evidence that social construction of trust-producing social structure in fact results in production of higher value science.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5373
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "The Management of Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1185-1209.
    3. 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.
    4. Zucker, Lynne G. & Brewer, Marilynn B. & Darby, Michael R. & Peng, Yusheng, 1994. "Collaboration Structure and Information Dilemmas in Biotechnology: Organizational Boundaries as Trust Production," Institute for Social Science Research, Working Paper Series qt0gd8j9k8, Institute for Social Science Research, UCLA.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Klein, Benjamin, 1988. "Vertical Integration as Organizational Ownership: The Fisher Body-General Motors Relationship Revisited," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(1), pages 199-213, Spring.
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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

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