Rethinking the Rationales for Funding and Governance
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Aldo Geuna, Ammon J. Salter and W. Edward Steinmueller
9. On the workings of scientiﬁc communities* Robin Cowan and Nicolas Jonard 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter is about the creation and diﬀusion of knowledge within scientiﬁc communities or disciplines. There has long been a distinction between basic and applied research, corresponding roughly to the distinction between science and technology. More recently, a similar distinction has been drawn between open and closed science, drawing attention to diﬀerent incentive and reward structures within diﬀerent loci of knowledge creation. Roughly speaking, the open science model corresponds to what we think of traditionally as university or academic research; closed science corresponding to industrial research, or research aimed at proﬁt-making market activities.1 In this chapter we are concerned exclusively with the open science model. We focus on single academic disciplines (economics for example) having several subdisciplines (micro theory, applied micro, econometrics, labour economics, industrial organization, macro-economics and so on). Within a discipline individual scientists interact directly with other scientists in a variety of ways – they collaborate; they read one another’s working papers; they talk in the corridors; they attend one another’s seminars and conference presentations and so on. If these are considered direct interactions, it is clear that all economists do not interact directly with one another. Indeed, any economist will interact directly only with a small number of other economists. Thus we observe a population of individual agents each of whom interacts directly with only a very small number of other agents. We can usefully see this population...
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