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Serendipitous encounters are partially responsible for the flow of technical knowledge by affecting the direction of an individual’s search, driving some agglomeration effects in regions and innovation within organizations. However, serendipity is difficult to study due to measurement and endogeneity concerns. My research design introduces the use of local flu prevalence as an exogenous influence on serendipity in knowledge seeking behavior, arguing that social distancing responses to a disease epidemic – phenomena well-established in epidemiology literature – vary the likelihood of serendipitous encounters between proximate people. I hypothesize and find that flu seems to negatively influence local collaboration, results consistent with lower serendipitous encounters. I then empirically explore the direction knowledge-seeking turns during times with lower serendipity, presenting findings that build on prior literature.
Stuck in the Innovative Middle: The Effects of Acquisitions on the Acquirer’s Inventors
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Eunkwang Seo,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This study examines how acquisitions affect the productivity of inventors belonging to acquiring firms. The ‘tension’ view of recombination predicts that inventors with a partial technological overlap with the target firm’s knowledge will be associated with higher productivity. Organizational learning theory, however, suggests that if past events are not sufficiently similar to the focal event, generalization of prior experience can hurt performance due to the effects of negative learning. Using a difference-in-differences technique, we find support for organizational learning theory. We also examine the moderating roles of structural integration and acquisition experience. These results can expand our understanding about the consequences of acquisitions for the productivity of the acquirer’s inventors, when the acquirer and target share technological knowledge bases that have various elements in common.
Detrimental Collaborations in Creative Work: Evidence from Economics
London Business School Florenta Teodoridis,
University of Southern California Michaël Bikard,
Prior research on collaboration and creativity has mostly assumed that individuals choose to collaborate because collaboration positively contributes to output quality. In this paper, we argue that collaboration conceals individual contributions, and that the presence of a collaboration credit premium—when the sum of fractional credits allocated to each collaborator exceeds 100%—might motivate individuals to collaborate even when their collaboration hurts output quality. We test our argument on a sample of economists in academia. Using the alphabetical rank of individuals’ family name as an instrument for collaborative behavior, we show that economists sometimes choose to collaborate even in cases where this choice decreases output quality. Collaboration can, therefore, create a misalignment between the incentives of creative workers and the prospects of the project.
Do Managers Pair Digital Technologies and More Knowledgeable Workers also Within Occupations?
Digital technologies are automating more and more production tasks, also in knowledge-intensive contexts. 3D engines in video game development – software packages relieving projects of many coding tasks in the making of 3D-visual games – are one early example. Using micro-level data on 4,248 video game projects over 13 years, we explore what induces some projects in knowledge-intensive settings to automate tasks through new, advanced digital technologies in comparison to others that do not. Combining insights from the literature on skill-biased technical change and behavioral decision-making, we analyze the influence that programmers’ knowledge as well as their habits and routines – both, based on experience – have. We find projects with more active, yet less tenured programmers to be more likely to use 3D engines.