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Off the beaten path: What drives scientists’ entry into new fields?

Stijn Kelchtermans, Daniel Neicu and Reinhilde Veugelers

No 654663, Working Papers of Department of Management, Strategy and Innovation, Leuven from KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB), Department of Management, Strategy and Innovation, Leuven

Abstract: Given that prestige sits at the core of the scientific reward system and that venturing into unknown territory carries substantial risk, scientists don’t take the decision to enter a new field lightly. This paper analyses the individual and contextual factors associated with entry into new-to-the-researcher fields of research. Using a panel of researchers in biomedical sciences and engineering from a large European research university, we find that productivity affects new field entry as such, but is not associated with entry into fields that are very distant to one’s current expertise. Such ‘long jumps’ are more likely to be made by talented, rather than merely productive researchers. Scientists in more senior ranks, with larger co-author networks and collaborating with PhD students are more likely to enter fields but these factors don’t represent an additional push to enter very remote fields. Finally, accounting for its endogeneity, we find that funding does not make new field entry more likely but, conditional on entry supports ‘long jumps’.

Keywords: economics of science; new field entry; scientific funding (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 42
Date: 2020-05-18
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-sog
Note: paper number MSI_2008
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Published in FEB Research Report MSI_2008, pages 1-42

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https://lirias.kuleuven.be/retrieve/576188 Published version (application/pdf)

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Journal Article: Off the beaten path: what drives scientists’ entry into new fields? (2022) Downloads
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