This study explores the role of contemporaneous peer effects in driving an academic's involvement with industry. Specifically, we examine the influence of workplace peers and personal collaborators and how these effects are moderated by the career age of the scientist. Moreover, we look at situations in which both types of social influence are incongruent and the academic is faced with “dissonance”. Based on survey data of 355 German academics in the field of biotechnology and publication data from the Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), we find that the scientist's involvement with industry increases with the orientation of the scientist's department toward industry (“localized peer effect”). This effect turns out to be moderated by the scientist's age, such that the localized peer effect decreases with age and finally turns negative for very senior scientists. Moreover, we find that a scientist's involvement increases with the industry orientation of the scientist's co-authors (“personal peer effect”), irrespective of the scientist's age. In case both types of social influence are incongruent, younger scientists will revert to localized norms while more experienced scientists will orient themselves more toward their personal collaborators.
Research Policy, 2014, Vol 43, Issue 2, p. 367-381