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Reaching for the Stars: When Does Basic Research Collaboration between Firms and Academic Star Scientists Benefit Firm Invention Performance?

Tijdschriftbijdrage - e-publicatie

While their expertise and scientific excellence make academic star scientists attractive collaboration partners for firms, this study indicates that firms face difficulties in capturing value from collaborations with academic stars. Stars are time constrained, may be less committed to commercialization, and can be a source of undesired knowledge spillovers to other firms. The purpose of this study is to recognize the contingencies under which collaboration with star scientists is positively associated with a firm’s ability to produce valuable patents (invention performance). We analyze a panel dataset on the collaborations in basic research(publication data) and invention performance (patent output) of 60 prominent pharmaceutical firms. We find that basic research collaboration with academic stars is on average not associated with a performance premium above the overall positive influence of collaborating with academia. We only observe this premium if the star scientist abstains from simultaneous collaboration with other firms (‘dedication’) and extend her collaboration with the firm to involvenot only basic but also applied research (‘translation’). Extending prior work that has focused on corporate star scientists, we find that if the collaboration involves an internal firm star scientist, a translational contribution of the academic star is no longer a prerequisite, and may even be detrimental to inventive performance. Our findings inform the literatures on industry-science links and firms’ (scientific) absorptive capacity by revealing the crucial contingencies for firms to benefit from partnering with the best and brightest among academic scientists. Practitioner Points: - Intuitively we may expect that collaborating with the very top among academics benefits firms, yet collaborating with these academic star scientists also entails important challenges. - Organizations seeking to benefit from the extraordinary expertise of academic star scientists should take into account two important conditions: o The top academic should be a dedicated collaboration partner, and avoid simultaneous collaboration with other firms. o The top academic should not only be involved in basic research but also in applied research collaboration with the firm, enhancing her ability to assist the firm in the translation of research into a marketable product. - When the firm also employs a star scientist who is engaged in the collaborative research with an academic star scientist, the translation of the joint research is better performed by the internally employed star scientists instead of the academic star scientist.
Tijdschrift: The Journal of Product Innovation Management
ISSN: 0737-6782
Issue: 2
Volume: 39
Pagina's: 222 - 264
Jaar van publicatie:2022
BOF-publication weight:6
CSS-citation score:1
Authors from:Higher Education