Cornelia Lawson (University of Manchester)
3 October 2023 @ 12:30 - 13:30
Boundary spanning for impactful research? Investigating the impact of investigator- and funder-initiated grants on follow-on research
Venue: Campus Luigi Einaudi room 3D440
Abstract. Researchers largely develop and frame their own research ideas and solutions, but they can also become problem solvers to externally or pre-defined problems or involve external non-academic partners. Building on insights from open innovation we argue for a match between problem and solution types leads to more innovative research, such that externally defined problems benefit from open solutions that span boundaries between academia and research users, while internally defined problems do not. Using unique data on more than 2000 research grant applications to the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), the largest strategic funding agency in the UK, we estimate a regression discontinuity design (RDD) model that compares near-misses with near-wins. Our findings show that scientists on investigator-initiated projects produce the highest impact research and have more funding success if they do not involve non-academic partners, while on the other side scientists on funder-initiated grants successfully shift research agendas and stimulate future collaborative research if they span boundaries. This suggests complementarity between problem formulation and solution types, such that externally defined problems benefit from boundary spanning solutions, while internally defined problems have the highest impact in academic solutions. These findings are of relevance to innovators and funders as they inform on the problem-solution match for impactful research and innovation.