The productivity of science & engineering PhD students hired from supervisors' networks

Stefano Baruffaldi, Fabiana Visentin, Annamaria Conti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (SciVal)


We compare the scientific productivity of PhD students who are hired from a fine-grained set of mutually exclusive affiliation types: a PhD supervisor's affiliation, an external affiliation from which the supervisor derives her coauthors, and an external affiliation with which the supervisor has no coauthorship ties. Using a novel dataset of science and engineering PhD students who graduated from two major Swiss universities, we find that the most productive PhD category is the one made of students who are affiliated with universities other than their supervisors' affiliation, but from which the PhD supervisors derive their coauthors. This result suggests an inverted U-shaped relationship between PhD students' productivity and the social distance from their supervisors. Additionally, we find evidence consistent with the role of supervisors' coauthor networks in resolving information asymmetries regarding PhD talent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-796
Number of pages12
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number4
Early online date2 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016


  • PhD students
  • Scientific productivity
  • Supervisors' networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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