How do the institutions involved in scientific collaboration deal with different kinds of distance? An analysis of the co-authorships of scientific publications
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In the scientific collaborations among different institutions at least two types of distance may be identified: spatial and institutional. We talk about spatial distance if the institutions are located in different places; about institutional distance if the collaborating institutions are of a different kind. Given that there are both barriers and incentives to overcome such distances, the specific focus of this paper is on the way the institutions involved in the collaboration deal with them. We are interested in studying if more stable collaborations have different characteristics from the more occasional ones on the point of view of spatial and institutional distance,. We also aim to study also what kind of dependencies exist among these types of distance: if there is a trade-off among them, or a relation of complimentarity. Moreover, we take the content of the research, if basic or applied, into account. The phenomenon of collaborations among different institutions (firms, universities, hospitals and research centres) is seen through the lens of co-autorship of scientific publications in the Italian “red” biotech sector. As empirical tools, we adopt some indexes built in the context of the social network analysis (the E-I index and the equivalence coefficient) usually used in different applications. This kind of analysis may highlight how knowledge flows among innovative agents and should be taken into consideration by the policy maker that aims to promote research collaboration between different institutions.