Spatial Proximity Matters: A Study on Collaboration.

As scientific research becomes increasingly cross-disciplinary, many universities seek to support collaborative activity through new buildings and institutions.

This study examines the impacts of spatial proximity on intra-university collaboration at MIT in the 2005 to 2015 period. By exploiting a natural experiment in our data, we evaluate how discrete changes in physical proximity caused by office renovations affect the likelihood of co-authoring between institute-affiliated researchers. The findings suggest that moving researchers into the same building increases their immediate propensity to collaborate, the year of the move. Three years later, the effect rises again and then plateaus five years after the colocation. The effects are large when compared to the average rate of collaboration among pairs of researchers, which suggests that spatial proximity is an important consideration in supporting cross-disciplinary collaborative science.

2019

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Joint with Matthew Claudel.