How does social interaction influence an academic's decision to become entrepreneurial and to collaborate with industry? Does the academic's age attenuate or amplify its effects? Since links between science and industry have become a widespread phenomenon over the last decades, a growing body of literature has investigated the role of peers in shaping an academic’s engagement in commercial activities. In this paper, we seek to shed more light on the boundary conditions for the effects of social interaction on a scientist's engagement with industry. Specifically, we examine the impact of localized and personal peer effects on academics' involvement with industry and how these effects are moderated by the career age of the scientist. We suggest that both localized and personal peer effects drive industry involvement but that the effects from such imprinting are more pronounced for younger researchers, suggesting that professional imprinting takes place in the early stages of a scientist's academic career. Our empirical analysis rests upon a sample of 330 academic scientists working in the field of biotechnology in Germany who were surveyed in 2010. The results indicate that Social interaction plays a major role in shaping scientists’ propensity to engage with industry. Both localized and personal peer effects turn out to be relevant which confirms and extends prior literature. Moreover, the scientist's career age turns out to be an important boundary condition, but only for one type of peer effects. While localized peer effects, i.e. the scientist department's co-publications with industry, lead to imprinting particularly in the early years of a scientist's career, the personal peer effect remains unaffected by the career age. Moreover, for younger researchers the localized peer effect is larger than the personal peer effect. Our results hold important implications for science, technology and innovation policy on how to stimulate academics’ engagement with industry.

Keywords

university-industry linkages, professional imprinting, peers, biotechnology