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Fire and Mice: The Effect of Supply Shocks on Basic Science

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Baruffaldi,  Stefano Horst
MPI for Innovation and Competition, Max Planck Society;

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Byrski,  Dennis
MPI for Innovation and Competition, Max Planck Society;

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Gaessler,  Fabian
MPI for Innovation and Competition, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Baruffaldi, S. H., Byrski, D., & Gaessler, F. (2020). Fire and Mice: The Effect of Supply Shocks on Basic Science. Academy of Management Proceedings, 2020(1). doi:10.5465/AMBPP.2020.81.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-ACCE-0
Abstract
We study how a negative supply shock to research-related assets affects the production of scientific knowledge. In particular, we exploit the 1989 Morrell Park fire that destroyed a considerable share of the world's largest mice breeding facility, the Jackson Laboratory, and killed approximately 400,000 mice. This fire led to an unforeseen and substantial supply shortage in mice for the North American biomedical research community, which we can isolate at the strain and scientist level based on proprietary archival data. Using difference-in-differences estimations, we find that the scientific productivity of affected scientists decreases when measured in simple publication counts, but much less so when we adjust for the publications' quality. Moreover, affected researchers are more likely to initiate research that is unrelated to their previous work. This indicates that affected scientists switched research trajectories but maintained their scientific impact. In the aggregate, the temporary supply shortage of particular mice strains led to a permanent decrease in their usage among U.S.\ scientists. These results highlight the important role of supply chains in basic science."