Carl Benedikt Frey, Giorgio Presidente, 06 May 2022

Face-to-face interactions are critical for the cross-fertilisation of ideas. Yet, the share of geographically distributed teams in scientific research has steadily risen since the 1960s and accelerated with the ICT revolution of the 1990s. This column explores how the rise of remote collaboration has shaped disruptive discoveries in science between 1961 and 2020. Remote collaboration negatively impacted breakthrough discoveries, but the effect reversed after 2010, likely due to improvements in technologies that support effective remote collaboration at distance. 

Karol Jan Borowiecki, 29 January 2022

Teachers can exert lasting influence over their students’ output, but measuring that influence is challenging. This column evaluates the impact of instructors in the context of Western music composition over five centuries. The author finds that students are more similar to their teachers than to other contemporaneous composers and that this influence persists throughout the next two to three generations, as many students go on to become teachers themselves, but subsequently starts to fade. Students of high-quality teachers are more likely to become higher-quality composers, while imitation of a low-quality teacher reduces the chances of success later in life.

Daniel P. Gross, 20 January 2019

Creativity, despite its importance, is rarely studied by economists. The column uses the outcome of design competitions to evaluate whether positive ratings and strong competition spur creativity. Positive feedback with little competition reduces creativity, while the presence of small numbers of highly rated competitors increases it. But as the numbers of strong competitors increases, designers are increasingly likely to give up entirely.

Michel Serafinelli, Guido Tabellini, 06 January 2018

Innovation is often concentrated in certain geographic areas, or ‘creative clusters’. This column uses novel data on famous births to explore the dynamics of creativity in European cities between the 11th and 19th centuries. The results show that creativity tends to precede economic prosperity, and that city institutions that protect personal and economic freedoms are conducive to radical innovation in a variety of domains.

Susan Helper, Jennifer Kuan, 20 December 2016

Innovation is often associated with a few visionaries working in new and dynamic industries. In practice, however, critical innovation occurs daily at many points throughout a supply chain. This column uses recent survey data to examine innovation in the US automotive supply chain. Process innovations can have major downstream benefits, and ‘collaborative creativity’ between suppliers and customers is found to be critical in innovation efforts. US automakers should focus on strengthening ties with their suppliers in order to remain competitive.

Petra Moser, 04 November 2015

The effects of copyright laws on artistic creativity are difficult to identify. This column looks back at 19th century Lombardy and Venetia where, following annexation by Napoleon, basic copyright protection was adopted. The copyright laws raised both the quantity and quality of Italian opera. The findings have important implications for modern debates about protecting intellectual property.

Neil Lee, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 17 February 2015

Creativity is assumed to be the mother of invention, but research testing whether this is the case is surprisingly rare. This column addresses this gap in the literature by assessing whether firms in creative industries in the UK are more innovative than firms outside creative industries. The authors also examine whether the location of creative-industry firms in creative cities – and the size of creative cities – matters for the innovative capacity of these firms.


CEPR Policy Research