IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/6882.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Balancing Incentives: The Tension Between Basic and Applied Research

Author

Listed:
  • Iain Cockburn
  • Rebecca Henderson
  • Scott Stern

Abstract

This paper presents empirical evidence that the intensity of research workers' incentives for the distinct tasks of basic and applied research are positively associated with each other. We relate this finding to the prediction of the theoretical literature that when effort is multi-dimensional, firms will balance' the provision of incentives; when incentives are strong along one dimension, firms will set high-powered incentives for effort along other dimensions which compete for the worker's effort and attention (Holmstrom and Milgrom, 1991). We test for this effect in the context of pharmaceutical research using detailed data on individual research programs financed by private firms. Consistent with the complementarity hypothesis, we find strong evidence that firms who provide strong promotion-based incentives for individuals to invest in fundamental or basic' research also provide more intense incentives for success in applied research through the capital budgeting process. The intensity of these bonus' incentives is weaker in firms who use a more centralized research budgeting process. We interpret this latter finding as providing support for theories which emphasize substitutability between contractible and non-contractible signals of effort (Baker, Gibbons, and Murphy, 1994).

Suggested Citation

  • Iain Cockburn & Rebecca Henderson & Scott Stern, 1999. "Balancing Incentives: The Tension Between Basic and Applied Research," NBER Working Papers 6882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6882
    Note: PR
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w6882.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rebecca Henderson & Iain Cockburn, 1996. "Scale, Scope, and Spillovers: The Determinants of Research Productivity in Drug Discovery," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(1), pages 32-59, Spring.
    2. Lazear, Edward P & Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 841-864, October.
    3. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1989. "Agency costs and innovation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 305-327, December.
    4. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1987. "Bargaining and Influence Costs and the Organization of Economic Activity," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt32s7d4jv, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
    5. Stein, Jeremy C, 1997. " Internal Capital Markets and the Competition for Corporate Resources," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 52(1), pages 111-133, March.
    6. Anton, James J & Yao, Dennis A, 1994. "Expropriation and Inventions: Appropriable Rents in the Absence of Property Rights," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(1), pages 190-209, March.
    7. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
    8. Lerner, Josh & Merges, Robert P, 1998. "The Control of Technology Alliances: An Empirical Analysis of the Biotechnology Industry," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 125-156, June.
    9. Aghion, P. & Tirole, J., 1993. "On the Management of Innovation," Working papers 93-12, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    10. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1991. "Multitask Principal-Agent Analyses: Incentive Contracts, Asset Ownership, and Job Design," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(0), pages 24-52, Special I.
    11. Slade, Margaret E, 1996. "Multitask Agency and Contract Choice: An Empirical Exploration," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 37(2), pages 465-486, May.
    12. Arora, Ashish, 1996. "Testing for complementarities in reduced-form regressions: A note," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 51-55, January.
    13. Edward P. Lazear, 2000. "Performance Pay and Productivity," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1346-1361, December.
    14. Hauser, John R. & Zettelmeyer, Florian., 1996. "Metrics to evaluate R,D&E," Working papers 156-96. Working paper (Sl, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    15. George Baker & Robert Gibbons & Kevin J. Murphy, 1994. "Subjective Performance Measures in Optimal Incentive Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1125-1156.
    16. Baker, George P, 1992. "Incentive Contracts and Performance Measurement," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 598-614, June.
    17. Joshua S. Gans & Scott Stern, 2000. "Incumbency and R&D Incentives: Licensing the Gale of Creative Destruction," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(4), pages 485-511, December.
    18. Susan Athey & Scott Stern, 1998. "An Empirical Framework for Testing Theories About Complimentarity in Organizational Design," NBER Working Papers 6600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Holmström, Bengt, 1989. "Agency Costs and Innovation," Working Paper Series 214, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    20. Ariel Pakes, 1981. "Patents, R and D, and the Stock Market Rate of Return," NBER Working Papers 0786, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Bengt Holmstrom, 1982. "Moral Hazard in Teams," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 13(2), pages 324-340, Autumn.
    22. Patrick Bolton & David S. Scharfstein, 1998. "Corporate Finance, the Theory of the Firm, and Organizations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 12(4), pages 95-114, Fall.
    23. Bharant N. Anand & Alexander Galetovic, 1998. "Weak Property Rights and hold-up in R&D," Documentos de Trabajo 39, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
    24. Casey Ichniowski & Kathryn Shaw & Giovanna Prennushi, 1995. "The Effects of Human Resource Management Practices on Productivity," NBER Working Papers 5333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Andrew B. Abel, 1984. "R&D and the Market Value of the Firm: A Note," NBER Chapters,in: R&D, Patents, and Productivity, pages 261-270 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    26. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-596, September.
    27. Erin Anderson & David C. Schmittlein, 1984. "Integration of the Sales Force: An Empirical Examination," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(3), pages 385-395, Autumn.
    28. Holmstrom, Bengt & Milgrom, Paul, 1994. "The Firm as an Incentive System," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 972-991, September.
    29. Henderson, Rebecca. & Cockburn, Iain., 1994. "Measuring competence? : exploring firm effects in pharmaceutical research," Working papers 3712-94., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
    30. Philippe Aghion & Jean Tirole, 1994. "The Management of Innovation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(4), pages 1185-1209.
    31. Gibbons, Robert & Waldman, Michael, 1999. "Careers in organizations: Theory and evidence," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 36, pages 2373-2437 Elsevier.
    32. Zucker, Lynne G & Darby, Michael R & Brewer, Marilynn B, 1998. "Intellectual Human Capital and the Birth of U.S. Biotechnology Enterprises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(1), pages 290-306, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:6882. 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.