What does a region need to lead a discipline? Pioneers

If you want to open a restaurant, you first have to invest — in waiters, chefs, facilities, and equipment — to be profitable later on. “Political decision-makers and investors of a region face a similar situation. If they decide to invest in a new field of research, they have to become leaders at a certain point to be profitable,” CSH researcher Vito D. P. Servedio explains.

Rich Get Richer

Therefore, they need financial resources and scientists. “Early investment in emerging areas of research is a key driver of scientific dominance,” he continues. Once the pioneer has established an area or technology, researchers are also more likely to move into this new, stimulating environment. This “get-rich-richer” phenomenon underlies the development of scientific strength in a region. And scientists’ mobility drives the development of scientific disciplines. The question is, then, how many scientists does a region need to hire so that other scientists find its environment attractive and join its institutions?

No Critical Mass

The team found no evidence for the existence of a minimum number of researchers to hire. Or in technical terms: there is no critical mass to start and carry on a new research field successfully. Here, the scientists focused on three scientific areas: semiconductors, embryonic stem cells (ESC) and internet research.

“In a way, this contradicts the generally held belief that you need a minimum number or critical mass of researchers to make a field successful. In our study, it becomes apparent that this is not the case,” Stefan Thurner from CSH states.

Source: Read Full Article