Seminar  |  01/22/2020 | 4:00 p.m.  –  8:00 p.m.

TIME Colloquium

Dennis Byrski (Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition), Georg Windisch (TUM) (on invitation)

Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition, Munich, Room E10


Fire and Mice: The Effect of Supply Shocks on Basic Science
Stefano Baruffaldi, Dennis Byrski, Fabian Gaessler
Speaker: Dennis Byrski

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.


Strategy Development in Project-Based Organizations
Speaker: Georg Windisch (TUM)

Research has established that learning at and across different level is of utmost importance for project-based organizations (PBOs) to identify and develop new strategies. At the same time, pbo’s face inherent weaknesses in exactly these areas: organizational learning and firm-level strategizing. Literature to date has created a large body of knowledge on learning and capability building in support or in consequence of pursuing new strategies, that is a new strategy is already defined and firms improve on executing it through vanguard (also called “innovative”) projects. Yet, apart from few conceptual attempts, a profound empirical analysis of learning mechanisms that lead to the identification and development of new strategies – as prerequisite to initiate innovative projects - is missing so far. Consequently, the question this study aims to answer is the following: How does learning in project-based organizations lead to the development of new strategies? We put particular emphasis on which learning mechanisms occur throughout strategy development and which obstacles might lead to the difficulties on organizational learning, as identified by previous research. To answer this question, the author conducted a 16-month ethnographic case study on a pbo in the rail transport industry that faced a fundamental change in its business environment and, over a period of almost two decades and with the extensive help of internal consultants, managed to successfully identify and develop a new strategy to adapt to its new competitive landscape. Building on this, we put forward the concept of a self-locking cycle, which hindered the firm to conduct strategy development by their own efforts. Further we identified three learning mechanisms conducted by the internal consultants that allowed to overcome this self-locking cycle in our focal firm and finally enabled successful strategy development: project-oriented, business environment-oriented, and organization-oriented learning.