Stanford Professor Lisa Link)Written Description (
“Running with (CRISPR) Scissors: Tool Adoption and Team Assembly” (2018). MIT Job Market Paper
Firms and individuals face a choice when innovating with a new research tool: should the technology-specific knowledge be generated internally or acquired through external tool specialists? Previous research has shown that access to research tools increases innovation but these studies often must conflate access with the ability to use the tool, limiting investigations into how innovators use tools to generate new innovations. This paper suggests one possible mechanism and quantifies the role external tool specialists have in adopting and applying a tool for new innovation. Using the introduction of the DNA-editing tool CRISPR, it is possible to identify external tool specialists and their contribution to innovation, beyond access to the tool, by exploiting naturally occurring hurdles to employing CRISPR. The results show that the proportion of external tool specialists contributing to new CRISPR papers in a disease is significantly larger in disease domains where the tool is more difficult (or costly) to apply, even after controlling for time effects. Further, the proportion of external tool specialists increases for each additional CRISPR paper in a disease after the first in difficult domains. The findings suggest that there are gains to specialization in tool knowledge and that innovators strategically use the value-added knowledge of external tool specialists depending on the cost of applying the new technology.
“Who Tries (and Who Succeeds) in Staying at the Forefront of Science: Evidence from the DNA-editing technology, CRISPR” with Neil Thompson (2017). Link
“Technological Breakthroughs, Entry, and the Direction of Scientific Progress: Evidence from CRISPR/Cas9,” MIT Master’s Thesis (2016). Link
“Categorization of Traded and Local Industries in the US Economy” with Mercedes Delgado and Richard Bryden (2014). Link