A field experiment on search costs and the formation of scientific collaborations

Kevin J. Boudreau, Tom Brady, Ina Ganguli, Patrick Gaule, Eva Guinan, Anthony Hollenberg, Karim R. Lakhani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


We present the results of a field experiment conducted at Harvard Medical School to understand the extent to which search costs affect matching among scientific collaborators. We generated exogenous variation in search costs for pairs of potential collaborators by randomly assigning individuals to 90-minute structured information-sharing sessions as part of a grant funding opportunity. We estimate that the treatment increases the probability of grant co-application of a given pair of researchers by 75%. The findings suggest that matching between scientists is subject to considerable friction, even in the case of geographically proximate scientists working in the same institutional context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-576
Number of pages12
JournalReview of Economics and Statistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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