nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2007‒01‒14
thirteen papers chosen by
Jonas Holmstrom
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration

  1. Incentives to Research in European Public Universities By Joan Rosselló
  2. Different returns to different degrees? Evidence from the British Cohort Study 1970 By Bratti, Massimiliano; Naylor, Robin; Smith, Jeremy
  3. Co-authorship in Regional Science: A Network Approach By Gunther Maier; Jouke van Dijk
  4. The Geographical and Institutional Proximity of Scientific Collaboration Networks By Frank Van Oort; Roderik Ponds; Koen Frenken
  5. The Evolution of Male-Female Wages Differentials in Canadian Universities: 1970-2001 By Casey Warman; Frances Woolley; Christopher Worswick
  6. Investments in Higher Education and the Economic Performance of OECD Member Countries By Amnon Frenkel; Eran Leck
  7. Lost, Dysfunctional or Evolving? A View of Business Schools from Silicon Valley By Eischen, Kyle; Singh, Nirvikar
  8. Nanotechnology, Industry Competitiveness and University Strategies: the Case of the UWS Nanotechnology Network in South-West Sydney By M-Cristina Martinez-Fernandez; Kim Leevers
  9. Opportunities of University Business Incubation in the Less Favoured Regions of Transition Countries By Zoltan Bajmocy
  10. Determinants of University Spin-Offs’ Growth: Do Socioeconomic Networks and Support Matter? By Danny Soetanto; Marina van Geenhuizen
  11. Organizational Culture in the Greek Science and Technology Parks: Implications for Human Resource Management. By Theodore Pelagidis; Thanos Kriemadis
  12. Wheeling food products around the store… and away: the invention of the shopping cart, 1936-1953 By Catherine Grandclement
  13. Formal Knowledge Examination Institutions: Chance Or Threat to European Medium Tech-Nology SMEs? A Cognitive and Institutional Perspective By Silviya Draganinska; Rudiger Wink

  1. By: Joan Rosselló (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
    Abstract: In this paper we study the implementation of policy incentives aimed at increasing the research output at European public universities by university managers and public administrations. Although public universities are subject to significant management rigidities, we provide some interesting policies aimed at increasing their research output. We pay special attention to the principal agent problem between professors and university managers due to the career options that professors face outside the university.
    Keywords: Efficiency, productivity, professors’ salaries, incentives to research, state and federal aid, resource allocation.
    JEL: I20 I21
    Date: 2006
  2. By: Bratti, Massimiliano (Università degli Studi di Milano); Naylor, Robin (University of Warwick); Smith, Jeremy (University of Warwick)
    Abstract: As in many other countries, government policy in the UK has the objective of raising the participation rate of young people in higher education, while also increasing the share of the costs of higher education borne by students themselves. A rationale for the latter element comes from evidence of a high private return to university undergraduate degrees. However, much of this evidence pre-dates the rapid expansion in the graduate population. In the current paper, we use evidence from a cohort of people born in 1970 to estimate hourly wage returns to a university degree. Among other results, we ?nd (i) that compared to an earlier 1958 birth cohort the average returns to a ?rst degree for men changed very little, while the return for women declined substantially and (ii) substantial evidence of differences in returns to a first degree according to subject area of study and class of degree awarded
    Keywords: degree ; return ; subject ; UK ; university
    JEL: J3 J4 I2
    Date: 2006
  3. By: Gunther Maier; Jouke van Dijk
    Date: 2006
  4. By: Frank Van Oort; Roderik Ponds; Koen Frenken
    Abstract: The geography of innovation has established itself as a central subject in economic geography. Geographical proximity to firms and organizations like universities is supposed to have a positive effect on a firms’ innovative performance. One of the reasons causing these positive agglomeration effects is the fact that collaboration is eased by geographical proximity. Although the role of proximity for collaboration is a well researched theme with regard to innovation, less is known about the role of proximity in scientific collaboration and how this affects the probability and nature of networking among research institutions. This is surprising given the fact that collaboration in science has become a central policy issue. In this paper we set out a number of theoretical considerations about the role of geography for innovation and see whether these apply for science as well. The empirical part will focus on the geography of collaboration in scientific knowledge production, testing the hypothesis that collaboration between different kinds of organizations is geographically more localized than collaboration between the same kinds of organizations due to institutional or organizational proximity. Besides this we will analyze the importance of spatial proximity for various forms of collaboration (such as university-university and university-firm collaboration) using the concept of the gravity model. Finally we will look at the spatial structure of these collaboration networks using insights from social network methodology. Based on co-publications, central nodes of collaborative interaction and network structures are analysed over time. On the network-level we conclude on differences in the fields of life- and physical sciences and on differences on the type of relations according to university-firm, university-university and university-governmental institution linkages. On the regional level we conclude on the centrality and spatial extent of scientific collaboration hubs over time
    Date: 2006–08
  5. By: Casey Warman (Queen's University, Department of Economics, Statistics Canada); Frances Woolley (Carleton University, Department of Economics); Christopher Worswick (Carleton University, Department of Economics)
    Abstract: In this paper, we use a unique data set containing detailed information on all full-time teachers at Canadian universities over the period 1970 through 2001. The individual level data are collected by Statistics Canada from all universities in Canada and are used to analyze the evolution of male-female wage differentials of professors in Canadian universities. The long time series aspect of this data source along with the detailed administrative information allow us to provide a more complete and more accurate portrait of the wage gap than is available in most other studies. The results of a cohort-based analysis indicate that the male salary advantage among university faculty has declined for more recent birth cohorts. This has been driven not so much by an increase in the real salaries of female professors but from a cross cohort decline in the earnings of male professors and the fact that female professors have not experienced a similar cross cohort decline. Also important to note is the fact that the differences across cohorts appear to be permanent. There is no clear pattern of changes in these cohort differences with age.
    Keywords: gender, earnings, Canada, professors, faculty
    JEL: J16 J31 J71
    Date: 2006–11
  6. By: Amnon Frenkel; Eran Leck
    Abstract: Universities and academic research institutions play an important role in contributing to the economic growth of countries, mainly through the diffusion of scientific knowledge, new methods, and technologies. This study investigates the relationship between investments in higher education and the economic performance of developed countries. Cross-sectional data, relating to higher education, workforce composition, and macro-economic indicators, were analyzed. The empirical analysis was based on data gathered from international datasets: World Development Indicators (WDI) of the World Bank, OECD Statistics Portal, and UNSECO for the 30 OECD member states. The main research hypothesis was that a positive and significant linkage exists between investment in higher education and economic growth. The examination was carried out by employing two models. The first model (a two-stage model) assumed that an indirect link existed between higher education and economic growth. The instrumental indicator used in the analysis was the country’s labor force composition (specifically, the percentage of employees in scientific and engineering fields). The second model employed a multivariate regression model to directly test the relationship between higher education and growth indicators. The research findings show that higher education inputs translate into human capital outputs (a trained workforce in the computing, science, and engineering fields), and these transform back into the inputs that explain the economic performance of OECD countries. Smaller European countries, such as Finland, the Netherlands, and Denmark, are more efficient in translating their educational investments into a high-quality labor force. The two main activities of universities - teaching and research - were found to be connected to enhancing the per capita GDP of OECD countries. The research findings also support evidence from other studies that show decreasing returns to scale in education. The elasticity of per capita GDP with respect to R&D expenditure per student and the expenditure on teaching in research universities were found to be fairly large, with a constant elasticity of 0.78% and point elasticities (when expenditure on teaching is held constant) ranging from 0.04% (Turkey) to 0.84% (Sweden). Point elasticities for the majority of OECD countries were found to be at the 0.2%-0.5% level.
    Date: 2006–08
  7. By: Eischen, Kyle; Singh, Nirvikar
    Abstract: Recent articles have rekindled discussions around the direction and relevance of US business schools. The two main viewpoints are distinct but equally critical. On one hand, business schools are considered overly focused on “scientific research” and having lost their connection to “real world” and management issues. On the other hand, schools are considered “dysfunctionally” focused on media rankings and short-term superficial marketing fixes. Our study of educational opportunities and workforce development in Silicon Valley suggests a different viewpoint. We agree that both approaches correctly identify the challenge of preparing managers in globalized world. However, we believe they misdiagnose the cause of the failure. Rather than being lost or dysfunctional, we believe business programs — like the firms and students they serve — are in the process of evolving to meet a shifting global and local environment. Our findings indicate that business schools face structural, content, and program shifts. Educationally, business programs continue to be seen as doing a good job of educating their students in core functional areas and processes. However, they do less well in teaching their graduates interpersonal skills, real-time decision-making, recognition of contexts, and integration across functional areas. These are increasingly the skills demanded by the global business environment. Even more challenging is meeting the demand for both sets of skills within very specialized fields like technology management. Structurally, new types of students and learning demands are placing stresses on traditional full-time two-year programs and their business models. Women and minority groups increasingly form the majority of the future student population, with distinct needs and demands for part-time and executive education. This shift is also evident in demands for life-long learning and engagement as opposed to a fixed, one-shot program experiences. These challenges require business schools to build upon what they do well, while innovating to serve new business and student needs.
    Keywords: management education; Silicon Valley; globalization; technology
    JEL: R11 I23 L80 M00
    Date: 2005–10
  8. By: M-Cristina Martinez-Fernandez; Kim Leevers
    Abstract: University-industry alliances have long been pursued by public funded programs hoping to boost innovation spillovers in a geographical or cognitive area of research-strength by universities. However, there is still a lack of industry-university cooperation in many fields while at the same time the benefits of universities to their regions’ knowledge intensity is firmly advocated (Acs 2004, Martinez-Fernandez & Leevers 2004, Martinez-Fernandez 2004)). The issue is not limited to the dissemination of knowledge, a traditional role of universities, but to introducing change into the region’s innovation system through activities that increase industry competitive advantage. Results from a project conducted in South-West Sydney from 2003 to 2005 shows that active industry engagement by Universities offering specific expertise in frontier technologies has a positive effect in university-industry cooperation if compared with other technologies well established in the private sector. The project results also show that the role of Universities as active facilitators of industry engagement in frontier technologies is a critical element in the regional/local innovation system where the university operates. The paper discusses first the context of the emergence of the UWS Nanotechnology Network as a sophisticated knowledge intensive service activity led by the University. Secondly the paper discusses the particular case of nanotechnology as a science in an early path and the role of universities at this particular stage. Thirdly, the paper discusses the use and barriers of firms to nanotechnology applications and the role played by UWS during the duration of the project. Finally policy issues arise in relation to the role of the public education sector in the early promotion of frontier technologies. References Acs, Z. (2002) Innovation and the Growth of Cities. Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. Martinez-Fernandez, M.C. (2004) ‘Regional Collaboration Infrastructure: Effects in the Hunter Valley of NSW’, Australian Planner Vol 41(4); Planning Institute of Australia: Queensland. Martinez-Fernandez, M.C. and K. Leevers (2004) ‘Knowledge Creation, Sharing and Transfer as an Innovation Strategy: The Discovery of Nano-technology by South-West Sydney’. International Journal of Technology Management (IJTM), Volume 28 (3/4/5/6): 560-581.
    Date: 2006–08
  9. By: Zoltan Bajmocy
    Abstract: The idea of setting up university business incubators (UBIs) has recently gained attention in the less favoured regions of the new entrants of the European Union. But the foreign best practices almost always derive from highly developed regions, which makes them difficult to adapt. In the lagging behind regions universities are unable to accomplish such a project without local government support and EU subsidies. Thus university business incubation can and must be interpreted as a local economic development tool. The main objective of present paper is to answer the question whether a UBI programme can be successful in a less favoured region of a transition country or not, and which are the main peculiarities that have to be considered when adapting the patterns of more developed regions. Raising the question is underlain by the observation that the international literature of business incubation pays little attention to the problem of the necessity and feasibility of incubation. First we review the most important findings of literature on UBI’s contribution to the enhancement of local university-industry relations with a special emphasis on the service providing function and the spin-off process. Second we interpret the results of an empirical analysis carried out in the Szeged sub-region, Hungary. We examined the expectations of local SMEs towards university-related incubation on a sample of 170. We supplemented this by analysing the entrepreneurial motivations of the students and, as a new feature, PhD students of the University of Szeged on samples of 286 and 134. Moreover we examined the sparse process of spin-off formation with interviews. The attitudes of local SMEs towards incubation are rather heterogeneous but some characteristic patterns can be identified. The analysis of students and PhD students and the interviews reinforced the hypothesis that incubation can only be the second step in enhancing the local knowledge commercialization, a well-developed pre-incubation strategy must be implemented prior to that. In the concluding part on the basis of the literature review and the empirical analysis we point out the factors which are necessary to consider in our opinion when planning and managing a UBI project in a less favoured region.
    Date: 2006–08
  10. By: Danny Soetanto; Marina van Geenhuizen
    Abstract: University spin-offs (USOs), as a type of entrepreneurial firms, face the challenge of obtaining sufficient resources to realize perceived business opportunities. USOs are vulnerable to many obstacles in this endeavor, particularly obstacles related to a lack of entrepreneurial knowledge (skills). Support such as office facilities, loan, and business coaching provided by incubator organizations, may help USOs to overcome obstacles. On the other hand, USOs may also overcome the lack of resources by participating in networks of supportive relationships. Social networking by USOs, including its spatial dimension, is not well understood. For instance, it is still not known how universities as a main source of knowledge contribute to the knowledge needs of nearby USOs; similarly, the spatial layout of knowledge relations of USOs has remained virtually unknown. This paper attempts to fill this knowledge gap. Our conceptual model of early growth of USOs, in terms of knowledge needs and fulfilment, is based on resource-based theory and social network theory. In this paper, we assume that USOs’ embeddedness in a network of ties is an important source of variation in the acquisition of knowledge resources. We argue that, aside from support from incubation organizations, USOs that maintain networks rich in bridging or boundary-spanning ties with knowledge institutions/actors are better-off compared with USOs that don’t employ such ties. We focus on the role of local institutions, particularly the university, as a source of knowledge. Our assumptions are tested on the basis of a sample of academic spin-offs of TU Delft, the Netherlands. The results from regression modeling are expected to support the embeddedness hypothesis and to produce new insights about the link between USOs’ social networks, the acquisition of knowledge and survival and growth.
    Date: 2006–08
  11. By: Theodore Pelagidis; Thanos Kriemadis
    Abstract: Introduction Research and technological poles have been also set up in Greek regions but only in the late '80s, introducing local economy into the modern international competitive environment. These infant cores of innovation have already inspired both academics and entrepreneurs to construct new models of investment planning and production. Although not yet fully developed, some of them, they have already created complex links between universities and industries, giving birth to many spin-off knowledge-based enterprises. Purpose of the Study and Organization of the Study This paper focuses on examining: (a) the four more successful case studies of Greek Science and Technological Parks, and (b) the organisational culture of the spin-off knowledge-based enterprises, within the Greek science and technology parks. It includes firms that have exited the parks but still have a close co-operation with them. Research Method The Organizational Culture Assessment Questionnaire (OCAQ) was developed by Sashkin (1996) to help people identify and understand the nature of the culture in their own organization. Sample and Data Collection The data for the present study were obtained by the OCAQ mailed to a sample of 33 spin-off companies which operate within the Science and Technological Parks of Greece. The mailing consisted of the questionnaire itself, a cover letter, and a stamped pre-addressed return envelope. As response inducement, each respondent was promised a copy of the study results on request. Of the 33 questionnaires mailed, 33 were received , representing a 100% response rate. Table 1 OCAQ Norms ManagingChange Achieving Goals Coordinated Teamwork CustomerOrientation Cultural Strength Total Very High 30 28-30 28-30 25-30 26-30 119 + High 26-29 23-27 24-27 21-24 22-25 108-118 Average 19-25 16-22 18-23 15-20 17-21 87-107 Low 15-18 11-15 14-17 11-14 13-16 76-86 Very Low 6-14 6-10 6-13 6-10 6-12 30-75 Results Table 2 presents a summary of respondents’ mean scores as well as the total score for all companies involved in this study. Regarding Managing Change, the mean score is 15.82 and is considered low compared to the corresponding mean of the table of norms. According to Sashkin (1996), this area of action concerns how well the organization is able to adapt to and deal effectively with changes in its environment. All organizations are open, to some extent, to rapid technological and social change. The mean score for Achieving Goals is 15.03 and is considered low compared to the corresponding mean of the table of norms. Sashkin (1996) stated that having a clear focus on explicit goals as been proven repeatedly to have a very strong relationship to actual success and achievement. Regarding Coordinated Teamwork, the mean score is 13.96, again low compared to the corresponding mean of the table of norms. Sashkin (1996) believes that long term organizational survival depends on how well the efforts of individuals and groups within the organization are tied together, coordinated and sequenced so that people’s work efforts fit together effectively. The mean score for Customer Orientation is 13.51 and is considered low compared to the corresponding mean of the table of norms. Sashkin (1996) argued that no matter how strong the culture and no matter how well the other functions of the organization are performed, if no one wants what the organization produces, then the organization is not likely to survive and prosper. Finally, the mean score for Cultural Strength is 13.67, again low compared to the corresponding mean of the table of norms. Sashkin (1996) stated that a strong culture based on values that support the functions of managing change, organizational achievement, customer orientation, and coordinated teamwork, will provide greater stability of organizational functioning. The total score 71.99 is very low compared to the corresponding one of the table of norms. However, Sashkin (1996) stated that the OCAQ is intended as a diagnostic aid, a first step in building better functioning organizational cultures. Through the OCAQ the company’s management can probably get some feeling for what sort of numbers are “high†and what might be considered “low†from looking at Table 1. Most important is that the items that make up the scales provide concrete directions about what an organization might actually do to improve its culture. Table 2 Results of the Study ManagingChange Achieving Goals Coordinated Teamwork CustomerOrientation Cultural Strength N 33 33 33 33 33 MEAN 15.82 15.03 13.96 13.51 13.67 SD 2.25 2.49 3.35 2.79 3.37 Total Score: 71.99 Conclusions Sashkin (1996) stated that all organizations have a culture based on values and beliefs shared by some, most or all of the organization’s members. However, when the culture is based on values that do not support the functions of managing change, organizational achievement, customer orientation, and coordinated teamwork, then this culture might actually hamper organizational survival and growth. Businesses of the Greek Science and Technological Parks need to adopt new approaches in attempting to change and manage effectively their organizational culture. Williams et al. (1993) suggested the following five methods commonly used by management: (a) Changing Human Resource management policies, management style and work environment. (b) Training employees in new skills and thus influencing their job attitudes. (c) Providing employees with training and role models appropriate to the desired culture, a culture which supports change, organizational achievement, customer orientation, and coordinated teamwork. (d) Greater emphasis on selecting people with the desired attitudes as well as technical skills and experience. This may include the use of more sophisticated selection techniques, for example psychometric testing, assessment centres, and biodata. (e) Moving people into new jobs to break up old sub-cultures. According to Whiteley (1991), the organization may use the following strategies to be customer driven: a. Information from customers is used in designing products/services b. The organization regularly asks customers to give feedback about its performance (satisfaction measures look at the extent to which customers are satisfied with the service they have received) c. Customers' complaints are regularly analyzed in order to identify quality problems d. Internal procedures and systems that do not create value for the customers are eliminated e. Employees are encouraged to go above and beyond to serve customers well f. Employees who work with customers are supported with continuous training and resources that are sufficient for doing the job well g. Employees are empowered to use their judgement when quick action is needed to make things right for a customer. Working as a team is a natural human behaviour. Everyone acts as part of a team, for the good of the entire organization. Dr.Deming also argued that competition is counterproductive inside an organization. The establishment of quality circles is a good example of teamwork. Quality circles consist of small groups of employees who meet to uncover and solve work-related problems. Members get together regularly to learn interpersonal skills and statistical methods associated with problem-solving and to select and solve real problems. Members meet an hour a week both during regular and outside of regular working hours. Meetings are chaired by a group leader. The leader is a discussion moderator who facilitates the problem-solving process. Problems are not restricted to quality, but also include productivity, cost, safety, morale, environment and other topics (Crocker, Charney and Chiu, 1984). Verespej (1990) found that the most important benefits to working in teams are: a) improved involvement and performance, b) positive morale, and c) sense of ownership and commitment to the product/service that teams create.
    Date: 2006–08
  12. By: Catherine Grandclement (Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation, Ecole des Mines de Paris)
    Abstract: Analyzes the invention and early development of the shopping cart (supermarket trolley) in the US using original archival sources.
    Keywords: Business history, innovation, mass consumption, material culture, shopping cart, Sylvan N. Goldman, Orla E. Watson, United States of America
    JEL: L81 O31 O33 O34 N82 N72 Z13
    Date: 2006–12
  13. By: Silviya Draganinska; Rudiger Wink
    Abstract: For most SME in incumbent medium-technology sectors, international business is only possi-ble, if additional support by specified institutions is provided. These additional services in-clude information on foreign markets – regulation, market partners, sales potential – as well as coordination – for trade fairs, common international recruitment and qualification strategies – and capabilities like access to financial markets or international public funding for interna-tionalisation or cutting-edge technological knowledge. For many of these services, private provision is possible, as exclusive use and rivalry in consumption are given. For other ser-vices, however, network characteristics restrict a completely private provision. The proposed paper analyses institutional arrangements particularly designed on regional, national or European level to support linkages between organisations and networks in differ-ent European regions. The investigation is based on information collected within the frame-work of the “IKINET project – International Knowledge and Innovation Network†(EU FP6, N° CIT2-CT-2004-506242). The specific challenge of the institutions investigated within this paper refers to linkages between organisations and networks with different institutional de-signs, e.g. the role of public and/or private supply, the characteristics and subjects of services, organisational structures and modes of coordination. These institutions attempt to bridge the gap between SME and organisations in different regions, but also to ease the access to EU funding for transnational (transregional) cooperation between SME. The paper will analyse their products, organisational structure, funding and codes of interaction. This investigation will be used to identify general and regionally specific prerequisites for effective interregional boundary spanning institutions. Secondly, the connectivity between the institutions will be analysed to reveal necessary standards or institutional arrangements to secure interregional trust in cooperation. These standards can range from rather informal, for example on the basis of business norms in trade fairs, to completely formal arrangements, for example in the case of contractual agreements on intellectual property rights and licenses. The assessment of these institutional arrangements uses an integrative methodological framework based on institu-tional analysis to overcome information asymmetries in cooperative innovative processes, sociological and cognitive psychological models of organisational and cognitive proximity and management models for SME as learning organisations. As a result, insights are expected for the European Union, which institutional arrangements are necessary for technology plat-forms on a regional level to secure interregional knowledge interactions.
    Date: 2006–08

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