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Death shades social construction: Identifying mechanisms of the collaborative creative premium - 22 Jun 2023

Associate Professor Sam Arts (KU Leuven) visited us for a research seminar where he presented research on the impact of a team member’s death.

Paper title and abstract

Death Shades Social Construction: Identifying Mechanisms of the Collaborative Creative Premium

Abstract: Do teams ideate inherently better inventions – or simply publicize them better? Using difference-in-differences estimations with idea-level fixed effects and a matched sample, we find that the death of a team member causes a strong and long-lasting reduction in the citations to an invention. The negative impact of a team member’s death increases for more novel and complex ideas, as well as for inventors with larger collaboration networks and those that span community boundaries. Our findings illustrate the social construction of technology; teamwork has a strong positive effect on the success of creative ideas independent from the content and quality of the idea at the time of creation. While collaboration surely influences ideation, our findings illustrate an upward bias in the social evaluation of collaborative work and warrant caution in assessing the benefits of teamwork based exclusively on the use and success, rather than the content, of an idea.


About Sam Arts

Sam Arts is currently an Associate Professor of Strategy with tenure at the Department of Management, Strategy and Innovation at the Faculty of Economics and Business, KU Leuven. He was a Ph.D. fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) in 2009-2013 and a visiting fellow at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science in 2010-2011. Hisresearch interests address creativity and innovation. His work has been published in journals such as Organization Science, Strategic Management Journal, and Research Policy. Sam is also a member of the editorial board of Strategic Management Journal.


This seminar represented an integrative and important part of the House of Innovation's strategy to build a research environment through engagement with prominent guests and their work.

This seminar was part of the Academic Seminar Series offered in cooperation with the Stockholm School of Entrepreneurship.

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