Determinants of PhD holders’ use of social networking sites: An analysis based on LinkedIn

Stefano H. Baruffaldi, Giorgio Di Maio, Paolo Landoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (SciVal)


Social networking sites are an increasingly important tool for career development, especially for highly skilled individuals. Moreover, they may constitute valuable sources of data for scholars and policy makers. However, little research has been conducted on the use by highly skilled individuals of those social networks. In this paper, we focus on PhD graduates, who play an important role in the innovation process and in particular in knowledge creation and diffusion. We seek to increase understanding of the determinants that induce PhD graduates to register on LinkedIn and to develop wider or narrower networks. Controlling for the most relevant individual characteristics, we find that (i) PhD holders moving to the industry sector are more likely to have a LinkedIn account and to have a larger network of connections in LinkedIn; (ii) PhD holders are more likely to use LinkedIn if they have co-authors abroad; and (iii) they have wider networks if they have moved abroad after obtaining their PhD. In light of our analyses, we discuss the usefulness of – and main concerns about – the adoption of LinkedIn as a new data source for research and innovation studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-750
Number of pages11
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number4
Early online date20 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Doctorate holders
  • Highly skilled individuals
  • International mobility
  • LinkedIn
  • PhD graduates
  • Researchers mobility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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