IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Research Productivity in a System of Universities

Listed author(s):
  • James D. Adams
  • Zvi Griliches

The focus of this paper is the research performance of a system of universities and sciences. Using data from the US during the 1980s we study the relationship between research output and R&D in 8 different fields of science We begin at the field level by examining the time series behavior of outputs measured by papers and citations in relation to R&D. At this level we find approximate parity between growth rates of papers and citations and the growth rate of R&D, except mathematics and agriculture, which diverge from parity in opposite directions, suggesting the predominance of a CRS production process for new scientific results. We then conduct an analysis at the university and field using small samples of leading U.S. research universities. We find returns to R&D are diminishing in nearly every case. One explanation points to the importance of research spillovers between universities and fields which are excluded at the university level but not at the system level, another is that errors in R&D are more important at the university level. The errors arise from misclassification of R&D by university and field. These explanations emphasize the relevance of research spillovers and of the system-wide aspects of university research, and pinpoint the sources of failings of current data on science resource. In addition we explore some efficiency aspects of the university system. Our findings suggest that leading schools have lower average and marginal costs of performing research than lesser institutions, and that leading institutions have a comparative advantage at generating higher quality, more highly cited research. In our comparisons of private and public institutions the results are not as one-sided, yet they suggest that private schools have a comparative advantage at generating more highly cited research.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 5833.

in new window

Date of creation: Nov 1996
Publication status: published as Annales d'Economie et de Statistique, Vol. 49/50, (January-June 1998): 127-162
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5833
Note: PR
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Stephan, Paula E., 2010. "The Economics of Science," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
  2. Evenson, Robert E & Kislev, Yoav, 1976. "A Stochastic Model of Applied Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(2), pages 265-281, April.
  3. Adams, James D, 1990. "Fundamental Stocks of Knowledge and Productivity Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(4), pages 673-702, August.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:5833. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.