Research

Working papers


The Behavioral Additionality of Government Research Grants
Revise and Resubmit at Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization

Abstract:
There are different forms of public support for industrial R&D. Some attempt to increase innovation by prompting firms to undertake more challenging projects than they would otherwise do. Access to a dataset from one such program, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency, allows me to examine the effect of research grants on firms’ patenting outcomes. My estimates suggest that a government research grant increases the propensity to file a patent application with the European Patent Office by around 12 percentage points. Stronger effects appear for more experienced firms of advanced age. Additional evidence indicates that grants induce experienced firms to develop unconventional patents and patents that draw on knowledge novel to the firm. I interpret the findings in a “exploration vs. exploitation” model, in which grants are targeted at ambitious projects that face internal competition from more conventional projects within firms. The model shows that this mechanism is more salient in experienced firms, leading to a stronger response in behavior for this group of firms.

Current Version (PDF)


Immigrant inventors and local income taxes: evidence from Swiss municipalities
Revise and Resubmit at Journal of Public Economics

Abstract:
This paper studies the relationship between local personal income tax rates and the attractiveness of municipalities as residential locations for immigrant inventors in Switzerland. Exploiting sharp differences in top income tax rates across state borders, I find an elasticity of the probability that an inventor takes residence in a municipality with respect to the top net-of-tax rate of around 4. Additional evidence suggests that inventors’ residential location choices are consequential for the localization of entrepreneurial activity and local knowledge spillovers.

Current Version (PDF)


Ongoing Work

Ability Differences and Performance in Crowdsourcing Contests (with Jonas Heite and Karin Hoisl)
Reject and Resubmit at Management Science

Abstract:
A high degree of heterogeneity among participants is inherent to the concept of crowdsourcing. We investigate whether assigning a contestant to compete against stronger opponents influences the contestant’s expected performance, and whether possible effects vanish when ability differences among contestants are minimized by design. To do so, we use data from Topcoder, an online platform for programming competitions, for 3,481 coders participating in 66 software-algorithm competitions that were organized between August 2001 and August 2002. In heterogeneous contest designs, we find that coders’ expected performance declines when they compete against higher-ability opponents. Additionally, they adopt divergent problem-solving strategies in response to increased competition. In homogeneous contest designs, negative performance effects continue to arise, although to a smaller degree. However, the coders no longer adopt divergent problem-solving strategies. These results contribute to the long-standing debate about whether competitive pressure spurs or hinders expected performance and the optimal design of crowdsourcing contests.

Draft July 2021 (PDF)


Open border policy and knowledge diffusion (with Gabriele Cristelli)

Abstract:
Prior studies have documented that country borders act as barriers to the diffusion of knowledge. Exploiting the opening of the Swiss labor market to German cross-border workers in the wake of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP), we examine the effect of increased labor mobility on the diffusion of patented inventions from German border regions in Switzerland. We find that patents that were developed in the vicinity of the border (in the decade prior) receive around 52% more Swiss citations after the reform, compared to patents that were developed in locations that are too distant to allow for cross-border commuting. The reform appears to have increased diffusion across organizational boundaries, mainly between firms with no observed cross-border collaborations and between different, non-overlapping inventor teams (i.e. no “self-citations”). Using textual similarity as an alternative measure of diffusion, we corroborate our results by showing that the reform increased the number of (subsequent) Swiss patents that appear highly similar to patents from German border regions.

Draft available upon request


Sexual misconduct: Do you separate the researcher from his research? (with Marina Chugunova and Michael Rose)

Abstract:
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a widespread problem. Among other sectors, it also pervades Academia. Exploiting data opportunities that are unique to the setting of academic research, we consider how allegations of sexual misconduct affect the scientific standing and the careers of alleged perpetrators. We document that citations to the perpetrator’s prior work decline after allegations surface. Citation declines appear particularly pronounced for articles in top journals and for older articles. The effect is moderated by social and professional distance, with citations by “close” authors responding the strongest. We are able to corroborate the widely held belief that the gender composition of academic fields affects perceptions of sexual misconduct. Specifically, we show that citation declines are absent once we focus on articles in male-dominated fields. At the scientist level, we find that alleged perpetrators exhibit a considerable decline in publication output 1following the incident. They are also likely to switch to a new, disproportionately often less prestigious, workplace. Our paper presents evidence on the multi-faceted career consequences of allegations of sexual misc

Draft available upon request


The importance of mentors: evidence from faculty deaths (with Bruce Weinberg and Enrico Berkes)

Draft available upon request