Globalization of Science: Opportunities for Competitive Advantage from Science in China, India and Beyond
June 10, 2006
Running Time: 54:20 About the Lecture
When Fiona Murray visited research centers in China recently, scientists greeted her quizzically: “People were baffled about what a business school professor was doing in stem cell and gene sequencing labs,” Murray says.
As it turns out, Murray’s tour was integral to her own MIT Sloan research exploring how science serves as a source of competitive advantage. As China and India and other developing countries produce scientists and engineers at a quickening pace, Murray hopes to find out if their capacity to capitalize on scientific ideas is expanding in a comparable way.
One challenge to this kind of research, says Murray, is that the market for scientific ideas “is poorly functioning.” Traditional markets, say for pork bellies, oil or diamonds have well-defined products, well-established metrics,” but how do you measure the quality of scientific ideas?
Murray’s solution is to visit key scientific and engineering institutes in other countries to observe both scientific infrastructure -- the physical state of laboratories -- and how researchers collaborate and generate useful knowledge. She also scans the scientific literature to see how many papers a particular country publishes, in what subdisciplines, and how many citations scientists receive.
Murray’s work may aid commercial enterprises intent on taking advantage of growing global scientific and engineering expertise. Some initial insights: places like China and India hold tremendous potential for firms, whether through their permissive regulatory climates or unique natural resources. But, she advises, don’t enter one of these countries expecting to hire scientists at bargain basement prices, since “the real costs of scientific labor are hidden.” Also, expect poor lab facilities, enormous bureaucracies and a crazy quilt of intellectual property and licensing rules.
Counsels Murray, “Start by collaborating on R&D with research institutes and labs. That allows you to understand their expertise, social rules of engagement and to potentially shape the rules.”