Connections Matter: How Personal Network Structure Influences Biomedical Scientists’ Engagement in Medical Innovation

Oscar Llopis, Pablo D’Este
In this study, we analyze the determinants of biomedical scientists’ participation in various types of activities and outputs related to medical innovation. More specifically, we argue that scientists occupying brokerage positions among their contacts will in a more favorable position to deliver medical innovation outcomes, compared to scientists embedded in more dense networks. However, we also theorize that beyond a threshold, the coordination costs of brokerage may surpass its potential benefits. In addition to that, we study the influence of two individual-level attributes as potential determinants of the participation in medical innovation activities: cognitive breadth and perceived beneficiary impact. We situate our analysis within the context of the Spanish biomedical research framework, where we analyze a sample of 1,309 biomedical scientists.