TOOLS OR TOYS? THE IMPACT OF HIGH TECHNOLOGY ON SCHOLARLY PRODUCTIVITY

Authors

  • Daniel S. Hamermesh,

    1. Hamermesh: Centennial Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1173. E-mail hamermes@eco.utexas.edu
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  • Sharon M. Oster

    1. Oster: Frederic D. Wolfe Professor of Economics and Management, School of Management, 135 Prospect St., Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511. E-mail sharon.oster@yale.edu
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    • *

      We thank the Ford Foundation for suppport provided through the NBER and Sarah Libby, Robert Mohr. and expecilally Cristina Puente for their extremely careful research assistance.We are also grateful to Stephen Bronars, Georage Carter, Johan McDowell, and paricipants at several seminars and in the SOLE Labor and Propulation Economics Internet Seminar for helpful suggestions.Most important, we thenk the hundreds of scholrs who were kind enough to respond to inquiries about their wherabouts and those of their coauthors.


Abstract

We examine the impact of communication technology on scholarly productivity by considering patterns of coauthored economics articles. Using articles in three major economics journals from 1970–79 and 1992–96, we find (1) sharp growth from distant coauthorships (authors not in the same metropolitan area prior to publication), as the theory predicts, and, contrary to theory, (2) lower productivity of distant than close-coauthored works and no decline in their relative disadvantage. These findings are reconciled by noting that high technology has aspects of a consumer good. The relative productivity of solo-authored articles has decreased, perhaps explaining the secular increase in coauthorship.

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