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Research Seminar: What causes a star to shine? Evidence from the Manhattan Project

Research Seminar: What causes a star to shine? Evidence from the Manhattan Project

Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business invites you to the Research Seminar titled "What causes a star to shine? Evidence from the Manhattan Project" by Dr. Nathan Betancourt.


Star scientists are an important source of novel knowledge and, consequently, highly sought after by organizations. Because novel ideas rarely originate in a single person’s mind, contemporary research views their creation as a social phenomenon; stars generate novelty by (re)combining the different information, perspectives, and experiences that exist within their social and organizational context. Inspired by recent work that connects stars’ work environment to their productivity, this manuscript employs an aspirational and information-processing capability lens to uncover variance among star scientists in their translation of diversity into novelty. For the aspirational lens, we distinguish between rising and established stars. For the information-processing capability lens, we differentiate between specialist and generalist star scientists. We use participation in the Manhattan Project, a large-scale research project that created the atomic bomb, as a quasi-natural experiment to uncover how stars are influenced by the diversity in backgrounds in their teams. We show that diversity has an overall impact on the novelty of star scientists’ knowledge output. This influence is concentrated among rising stars and generalist stars rather than established stars and specialist stars.


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Wednesday, October 27, 2021






Nathan Betancourt

Assistant professor

Nathan Betancourt is an assistant professor at the University of Amsterdam Business School. He received his PhD from Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2012 and joined the Amsterdam Business School in 2014 after working at Universita Svizzera Italiana (USI) in Switzerland. Nathan’s research focuses on the antecedents and consequences of status and power for creativity and performance. He is particularly interested in how our perceptions of the social interactions surrounding social hierarchies influences associated peer and spill-over effects. Nathan's work has been published, among others, in Network Science and Organization Science. He serves as an ad-hoc reviewer for several leading journals and has teaching experience in strategic management and experimental research.