status, spillovers, social networks, competition


When an actor experiences a sudden gain in status—for example, when a scientist wins a Nobel Prize, or a film director wins an Oscar—what does this increase do to the fates of that actor’s many ‘neighbors’? Do they bask in the reflected glory of the prize recipient, and therefore gain with her? Or, does competition for attention ensue, attenuating the recognition neighbors otherwise would have received? We investigate these questions in science. Using expert-assigned article keywords, we identify papers that are topically related to publications of future appointees to the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). In difference-in-difference specifications we find that, on average, these scientific neighbor articles experience substantial declines in citation rates after HHMI appointments are announced, relative to controls. That is, neighboring articles attract less attention when authors of papers near them receive a prestigious prize. We find this pattern reflects more than the trivial transfer of attention from non-winners to winners: once prizes are announced, actors cede scientific territory to prizewinners and pursue other opportunities. We also find that these negative spillover effects are moderated (or even reversed) by scientists’ social connections, and by the novelty and stature of scientific domains.

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Working Paper

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Marriott School of Management



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Assistant Professor

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