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Nicolas Carayol (Université de Bordeaux)

October 30 @ 13:00


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October 30
Event Category:

“Team Work Complexity, Scientific Competition and Interdisciplinary Research”


This paper aims at understanding the increasing complexity of researchprojects as one of the possible explanations for the fall in researchers’ productivity observedover decades. We conceptualize a research project as an idea and a team of researchers.Each idea is associated to a given knowledge production function that we suppose of theCES form whose production factors are sub-team efforts, each one in a distinct field of expertise.Teams compete in a Tullock contest to win a prize, or say a publication slot in a journal.We show that, at equilibrium, each team outcome depends negatively on a synthetic indexwhich characterizes its knowledge production function that we call “complexity”. Thoughthis index and its components are typically not observable in the data, we can show thatit is, at equilibrium, tied to the Hill index of factors’ contributions to the output, a standardinterdisciplinary measurement in our application. Moreover, comparative statics exhibita negative relation between complexity (and thus interdisciplinary) and outcome variables.This offers an opportunity to test empirically the increasing complexity over time of researchas an explanation of its decreasing productivity. We test (and confirm) those predictions onan original dataset of about four hundred thousand authorship in journals referenced in theWeb of Science over period 1999-2014 of approximately thirty thousand French professorsand researchers for which we have individual data.