Panel Paper: Explaining Institutional Effects On Research Performance Via Material-Sharing: A Path Analysis of Non-Plant Genetic Research

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 9:10 AM
Chesapeake (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Eunjung Shin and Eric Welch, University of Illinois, Chicago

In late 2010, Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity agreed to adopt the Nagoya Protocol (NP) as a mechanism to guide the global implementation of the access to and benefit sharing from the use of genetic resources. The NP will likely increase the administrative requirements, rules and costs related to the exchange and use of genetic resources for commercial and non-commercial purposes. The new global policy is likely to significantly affect science activity and outcomes.  Scholars have expressed concerns that the NP might hinder the global exchange of genetic resources and thereby affect the ability of scientist to undertake important scientific research in fields such as agriculture, biology and medicine (Jinnah and Jungcurt 2009). Nonetheless, the potential impact of the NP on scientific research has never been fully examined. Little prior research has addressed the effects of formal regulations on the exchange of genetic resources for science. It remains unclear whether and to what extent those exchange mechanisms affect research performance.

This paper aims to develop a framework for explaining institutional effects on non-plant genetic research. In detail, it proposes a sequential process through which institutions influence sharing of genetic resources and, in turn, how sharing behavior affects research performance. Institutions are broadly defined as formal and informal constraints and their enforcement characteristics (North 1990); they include (1) regulatory constraints, (2) market constraints, (3) scientific field norms, and (4) sector affiliation. These institutional factors are proposed to directly influence sharing of genetic resources and indirectly influence research performance (i.e. publications and research outputs associated intellectual property). 

Data used in the analysis are from a USDA NIFA-funded 2011 survey of government and university researchers and an identical 2012 survey of company researchers. The sample frames of both surveys included the U.S. national population of researchers who use non-plant genetic resources for food and agricultural research: microbes, livestock, aquatics and insects. Approximately 1,500 individuals were invited to take part in the 2011 survey; the response rate was 38%. About 1,000 individuals were invited to the 2012 survey; the response rate was 24% which is high enough as a survey of private sector employees.

Preliminary results show that regulatory constraints in addition to market constraints limit material sharing among researchers, which eventually influences research performance. University researchers are more likely to share genetic resources compared to government or company researchers. Furthermore, the results also indicate that institutional effects on research performance may differ according to the different type of research outputs.

This research has at least two major implications to management and policy studies. First, it identifies institutional effects on the exchange of genetic resources as well as research performance, which will help timely assess the potential impacts of the NP on scientific research. Second, a proposed comprehensive path model will facilitate a scholarly discussion on the linkage between material sharing and research productivity in a context of research management.