Working Paper BETA #2004-17

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Title : Why do Academic Scientists Engage in Interdisciplinary Research ?

Author(s) : Nicolas CARAYOL and Thuc Uyen NGUYEN THI

Abstract : This article provides a first empirical study of the determinants of the propensity to which academic scholars tend to perform interdisciplinarity research. For that purpose we introduce a measure of interdisciplinarity as the diversity of their research production across scientific domains. Our dataset concerns more than nine hundred permanent researchers employed by a large French university which is ranked first among French universities in terms of Impact. As expected we find that the traditional academic career incentives do not stimulate interdisciplinary research while having connections with industry does. The context of work in the laboratory (size, colleagues’ status, age and affiliations) strongly affects the propensity to undertake interdisciplinary research.

Key-words : Economics of science, Academic incentives, Interdisciplinary research, Laboratory, University.

JEL Classification : L31, 031, 032, 034, 038.