Current research

Does More Money Lead to More Innovation? Evidence From the Life Sciences

Marc J. Lerchenmueller

Large sums are often invested into scientific innovation – the creation of new knowledge through scientific research. In this paper, we argue that increasing investments may lead scientists to pursuing average (but more certain) as opposed to higher risk projects, with negative consequences for scientific innovation. Exploiting an exogenous multi-billion dollar shift in the budget of the world’s largest financier of scientific research, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), we find that the influx of more money led to a  significant decrease in scientists’ innovation productivity (about 15% fewer papers published), its significance (about 15% less citations generated), and novelty (about 10% reduction in unprecedented content). These negative effects become more pronounced when we, in addition to the macro level (federal budget), also account for differences in funding at the micro level (project budget). The decrease in scientific innovation is primarily driven by top scientists changing their research strategy with greater funding availability; the data reveal an about 1.5x to 3x larger reduction in scientific innovation for scientists in the top quintile versus scientists in lower quintiles of the capability distribution. We conclude with implications for public policy, corporate strategy, and the allocation of resources in support of scientific innovation.


The Effect of Mentor Gender on the Evaluation of Protégés 

Marc J. Lerchenmueller, Leo Schmallenbach, Karin Hoisl

The scientific community calls on senior women to help mentoring the next generation of scientists. Yet research indicates that particularly senior women often get undervalued in academia, from hitting glass ceilings to receiving less recognition for accomplishments than male peers. We examine whether these gender differences in evaluations of senior scientists, who are poised to serve as mentors, also affect the evaluation of protégés and their work. Identifying mentors of 4,556 scientists with competitive early career funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), we document a citation discount of 10% on the average paper published by women- relative to men-mentored protégés. Using data on both the publications of the mentored protégés as well as the citing articles, we distinguish supply-side (i.e., scientists’ offerings) from demand-side (i.e., actions by the scientific community) explanations. Supply-side factors appear to account for about 40% of the citation discount. The remainder is explained by men citing protégés of women less often than protégés of men. This gender-biased treatment on the demand-side particularly afflicts work in the most impactful research areas that draw the most citations. Although both men and women mentors spur protégés to producing their very best work, the science community gives women-mentored protégés less recognition for it. These findings raise concerns about an unbiased discourse on the best scientific contributions and about systemic limitations to women serving as mentors as a means to closing gender gaps in science.