We study the extent to which personal connections among legislators influence abstentions in the U.S. Congress. Our analysis is conducted by observing representatives’ abstention for the universe of roll call votes held on bills in the 109th-113th Congresses. Our results show that a legislator’s propensity to abstain increases when the majority of his or her alumni connections abstains, even after controlling for other well-known predictors of abstention choices and a vast set of fixed effects. We further reveal that a legislator is more prone to abstain than to take sides when the demands from personal connections conflict with those of the legislator’s party.
In this paper, we investigate how the choice to conduct interdisciplinary work affects a researcher’s career. Using data on 23,926 articles published by 6,105 researchers affiliated with the University of Florida in the period 2008-2013, we show that synthesizing knowledge from diverse fields pays off in terms of reputation. However, if combining too-distant research fields, the impact of a work is penalized. Moreover, research conducted balancing the contribution of different scientific fields has a negative impact on the reputation of scientists in terms of the number of citations but a positive impact on the diffusion of knowledge across other disciplines. Our findings are robust to a number of controls, including individual, time, and field of study fixed effects, and they apply to all investigators regardless of their gender, collaboration behavior, performance, and affiliation. All in all, despite its public benefits, interdisciplinary research comes with a cost for a researcher’s academic career. This trade-off poses challenging questions to policymakers.
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In this paper, we propose a model of national innovation production that formalizes the role of trade partnerships as a channel of knowledge spillovers across countries. The model is used to investigate the energy efficiency technological domain in the European Union (EU) using a panel database covering 19 EU countries for the time span 1990-2015. The model is estimated by using a new empirical strategy which allow to assess the knowledge spillover effects benefiting a country depending on its relative position in the trade network, and correct for common endogeneity concerns. We show that being central in the trade network is a significant determinant of a country’s innovative performance, and that learning-by-exporting is responsible for positive knowledge spillovers across countries. We further reveal that neglecting network effects may significantly reduce our understanding of domestic innovation patterns. Finally, we find that the benefits obtained from knowledge diffusion varies with the domestic absorptive capacity and policy mix composition. Our main implication is that policy mix design informed by network-based case studies could help maximizing the exploitation of positive knowledge spillovers.