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Hubs as lampposts: Academic location and firms’ attention to science

20 Jun 2018 - 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Hubs as lampposts: Academic location and firms’ attention to science
Michaël Bikard, London Business School; Matt Marx, Boston University

Abstract: The steady decline of firms’ private investment in scientific research in the past-quarter century brings to the fore the question of how they attend to external knowledge—especially in light of the myriad academic discoveries that might be relevant to a firm with bounded resources and attention. Prior literature has focused on internal factors that focus organizational attention, but we propose that external elements matter as well. Specifically, we show that firms are drawn to academic discoveries that originate in “hubs” or geographic concentrations of commercial R&D in a particular field. Testing the impact of hubs on firms’ attention is difficult because different papers may be more or less valuable for industry. We address this identification challenge by analyzing simultaneous discoveries where multiple researchers report the same finding in “twin” papers. Hubs may attract attention to local academic science by enabling informal interactions among academic scientists and industry inventors; indeed, we find that the hub effect is strongest in cities where many scientific conferences are hosted. The “lamppost effect” we find is moderated by institutional prestige and by formal connections between academia and industry.


20 Jun 2018
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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Golfclub Olching e.V.,
Feursstraße 89
Olching, 82140 Germany


Name (Seminar)
Michaël Bikard
Link Name (Seminar)
London Business School
Joachim Henkel
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