JRI, JF, and the Internet: Coauthors, New Authors, and Empirical Research

By Butler, Richard J. | Journal of Risk and Insurance, September 2007 | Go to article overview

JRI, JF, and the Internet: Coauthors, New Authors, and Empirical Research


Butler, Richard J., Journal of Risk and Insurance


ABSTRACT

This article examines how the Internet has changed the work of academic researchers and addresses the question of how expanded Internet usage has affected Journal of Risk and Insurance (JRI) and Journal of Finance (JF) articles, including the shift to empirical research, joint authorship, and new authorship. Internet availability significantly increased joint authorship overall (more for JF than for JRI), shifting upwards a strong secular trend toward working with other researchers. Another big impact of the Internet has been to increase the number of new authors (more for JRI than for JF).

THE INTERNET AND INSURANCE ACADEMICS

Although the Internet is changing modern life, its quantitative importance in the labor market is just now beginning to be established. This is somewhat surprising, as more than half of the working population of the United States used a computer at work in September 2001. Furthermore, 42 percent used e-mail or the Internet while working. The fact that computer and Internet usage has been uneven across occupations-81 percent of professionals and managers use computers at work, whereas only 21 percent of those classified as operators use computers--suggests that gains from computer use may be task specific. One type of task, team collaboration, may have especially benefited from the diffusion of the Internet and the massive reductions in the real costs of computing and information sharing, more likely affecting professionals than operators. The reduction of location-specific knowledge externalities across employers and work groups suggests, for example, that in science it's no longer necessary to be a top research lab or university department to be able to collaborate with the best intellects in a given field.

Indeed, recent research shows that the Internet has had a profound impact on collaboration between faculties in different departments. Using information on spatial-temporal Bitnet connections, Agrawal and Goldfarb (2006) find that Internet connectivity increased collaboration between those connected universities by 85 percent. Extensively analyzing faculty productivity at the top 25 universities during the last three decades, Kim, Morse, and Zingales (2006) report that the Internet has lowered department-specific research externalities in economics and finance by giving those outside of the top schools physical access to productive research colleagues within the top schools. Concomitant with this decline in location-specific externalities, they also report an increase in salaries at those top universities. Walsh and Maloney (2003), using survey information from four fields (experimental biology, mathematics, physics, and sociology) find that e-mail has significantly reduced coordination problems in research collaborations. In this article, I examine similar issues for research in insurance and finance. If the access to knowledge hypothesis is correct, then the Internet may be expected to increase the rate of coauthorship and the opportunities for researchers outside of the top universities.

This article focuses on a very narrow range of insurance-related business: academic insurance and finance researchers. It develops a simple model of coauthorship for insurance research, testing it first on data from the Journal of Risk and Insurance (JRI) from 1980 through 2003, and then on data from the Journal of Finance (JF) from 1980 to 2000. Personal computers were introduced into the U.S. market before 1980, and I wanted to separate the impact of the personal computer as a computing device from the effect of information sharing between computers. The end dates were determined by data availability. The results reported here were robust to longer and shorter periods chosen: in particular, the results restricting the data to post-1990 data are presented in the Appendix Tables A2-A7 and are virtually the same as the results discussed in the body of this article (indeed, the only change was a shift in the signs of a few of the issue-dummy variables).

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JRI, JF, and the Internet: Coauthors, New Authors, and Empirical Research
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