Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Papers in Innovation Studies,
Lund University, CIRCLE - Center for Innovation, Research and Competences in the Learning Economy

No 2013/43: Are there Scale Economies in Scientific Production? On the Topic of Locally Increasing Returns to Scale

Torben Schubert ()
Additional contact information
Torben Schubert: CIRCLE, Lund University, Postal: CIRCLE, Lund University, PO Box 117, SE-22100 Lund, Sweden

Abstract: In this paper the question of returns to scale in scientific production is analyzed using nonparametric techniques for multidimensional efficiency measurement. Based on survey data for German research groups from three scientific fields it is shown that the multidimensional production possibility sets are weakly non-convex and locally strictly non-convex. This implies that the production functions for the groups in the sample are characterised by increasing returns in some regions and at least constant returns to scale otherwise. This has two implications for organization of scientific research: first, at least some groups in our sample have suboptimal size and could benefit from growing. Second, specialisation on certain tasks in science (e.g. transfer-oriented groups vs. research-oriented groups) would increase output of the overall system.

Keywords: Research Units; Specialisation; Production; Efficiency; Returns to scale; DEA

JEL-codes: C14; O30

27 pages, December 20, 2013

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