Florenta Teodoridis is a Ph.D. candidate in Strategy at the University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management. Florenta’s research explores the drivers and consequences of technological innovation and entrepreneurship primarily related to the organization of knowledge creation. Her dissertation examines the impact of cumulative innovation on collaboration as it shapes the production of new ideas and influences the rate and type of knowledge creation.
Generalists, Specialists, and the Direction of Inventive Activity (job market paper)
Due to the cumulative nature of innovation, access to knowledge is important. Although evidence exists concerning the positive impact of increased knowledge access on the rate of inventive activity, less is known about its influence on the direction of inventive activity. I examine how a change in the cost of access to knowledge influences inventive activity by exploiting the hack of Microsoft Kinect as an exogenous event resulting in a sudden and unexpected reduction in the cost of motion-sensing research technology. Specifically, I examine changes in the publication rate of academic papers that use motion-sensing keywords and the composition of authorship on these papers before and after the launch of Kinect relative to other academic publications in selected control subfields of electrical engineering, computer science, and electronics. Despite a growing emphasis on the importance of specialists for knowledge creation, I identify generalists — scientists with broader exposure to knowledge — as playing a particularly important role in the process through which this shock influenced the inventive activity. First, generalists have a higher propensity than specialists to respond to opportunities for knowledge creation enabled by the reduction in cost of motion-sensing technology. Second, generalists play a central role in connecting non-motion-sensing specialists to these opportunities, thus influencing the direction of inventive activity.
Does Knowledge Accumulation Increase the Returns to Collaboration? (with Ajay Agrawal and Avi Goldfarb)
We conduct the first empirical test of the knowledge burden hypothesis — one of several theories advanced to explain increasing team sizes in science. For identification we exploit the collapse of the USSR as an exogenous shock to the knowledge frontier causing a sudden release of previously hidden research. We report evidence that team size increased disproportionately in Soviet-rich relative to -poor subfields of theoretical mathematics after 1990. Furthermore, consistent with the hypothesized mechanism, scholars in Soviet-rich subfields disproportionately increased citations to Soviet prior art and became increasingly specialized. Moreover, the effect is present in a region (Japan) that received very few Soviet immigrants suggesting the result is not driven by increased labor market competition.