Research themes:

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My research addresses the role of institutional contexts in shaping the development, commercialization and diffusion of technologies. I am particularly interested the roles of universities versus firms in contributing to these processes.

To address questions of institutions and innovation, I employ a mixture of quantitative and qualitative data to explore longitudinal trends in technology development and adoption. Qualitatively, I am trained as both an ethnographer and a historian, and I spend significant research time in various archives and "in the field" engaged in interviews and observations of practitioners. Quantitatively, I employ large databases of patents, publications, CVs, and other measures, which I use to construct networks and comparisons between individuals, organizations and technologies themselves.

My work focuses on four fields -- digital audio and computer music; information technology; green chemistry; and biotechnology -- and can be roughly categorized into the themes listed to the left. (The headings to the left will take you directly to papers/projects connected to each theme. The icons next to each paper/project title provide a quick indication of the field.) For further details on any paper/project, click on the "show/hide" link to view a short description or on the "view/download" link to access the full text -- or, simply send me an email at ajnelson (at)

Measurement and Metrics for Innovation Development and Diffusion

Do Innovation Measures Actually Measure Innovation? Obliteration, Symbolic Adoption and Other Finicky Challenges in Measuring Innovation Diffusion (with A. Earle, J. Howard-Grenville, J. Haack, and D. Young)

Forthcoming at Research Policy
Short version appears in 2012 Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings [Click to show/hide abstract]

Putting University Research in Context: Assessing Alternative Measures of Production and Diffusion at Stanford

Research Policy. 2012. Vol 41, no 4: pp. 678-691. [View/Download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

Measuring Knowledge Spillovers: What Patents, Licenses and Publications Reveal about Innovation Diffusion

Research Policy. 2009. Vol 38, no 6: pp. 994-1005. [View/Download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

Innovation Development Processes and Environments

"Defining What We Do -- All Over Again": Occupational Identity, Technological Change, and the Librarian-Internet Search Relationship (with J. Irwin)

Forthcoming at Academy of Management Journal [View/Download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

Help-seeking and Help-giving as an Organizational Routine: Continual Engagement in Innovative Work (with S. Grodal and R. Siino)

Forthcoming at Academy of Management Journal [Click to show/hide abstract]

From the Ivory Tower to the Startup Garage: How Organizational Context Shapes Commercialization Processes

Forthcoming at Research Policy [Click to show/hide abstract]

The Engineering of Novelty in a Large Management Consulting Firm (with I. Waisberg)

Second revise and resubmit at Organization Science [Click to show/hide abstract]

'A Towering Virtue of Necessity': Interdisciplinarity and Computer Music at Vietnam-Era Stanford (with C. Mody)

Osiris. 2013. pp. 254-277. [View/download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

Cacophony or Harmony?: Multivocal Logics and Technology Licensing by the Stanford University Department of Music

Industrial and Corporate Change. 2005. Vol 14, no 1: pp. 93-118. [View/download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

Understanding Path Dependence as a Process Beyond "Lock In": Path-Constrained Melioration and User-Group Tensions in Technology Development

Preparing for submission to Research Policy [Click to show/hide abstract]

The Sound of Innovation: Creativity and Commercialization at Stanford's CCRMA

Book under contract with MIT Press. Final manuscript in preparation. [Click to show/hide abstract]

Innovation Diffusion Processes and Influences

Public Science, Private Science, and the Sharing of Scientific Know-How

Third revise and resubmit at Organization Science [Click to show/hide abstract]

The Renaissance Chemist or the Schizophrenic Scientist?: Ambiguity, Identity, and Insider-Driven Change (with J. Howard-Grenville, A. Earle, J. Haack and D. Young)

Manuscript in preparation [Click to show/hide abstract]

Managing Collaborations at the University-Industry Interface: An Exploration of the Diffusion of PCR and rDNA

Forthcoming in Kim Elsbach and Beth Bechky (Eds), Qualitative Organizational Research, Best Papers from the Davis Conference on Qualitative Research, Volume 3 [View/download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

Economic Rationalizations and Concepts of Control: Lessons from the Diffusion of Railway Signaling in the United States and United Kingdom

Manuscript in preparation [Click to show/hide abstract]

The Social Shaping of Technological Fields: An Analysis of Telecommuting (with S. Barley and D. Bailey)

Data analysis [Click to show/hide abstract]

Entrepreneurship Education and Technology Transfer

Technology Ventures: From Idea to Enterprise (with T. Byers and R. Dorf) [Textbook website]

Fourth edition. McGraw-Hill. 2014.
Third edition. McGraw-Hill. 2010.
Translated into Italian as Technology Ventures: Management dell'imprenditorialitą e dell'innovazione McGraw-Hill. 2011.
[Click to show/hide abstract]

Organizational Modularity and Intra-University Relationships Between Entrepreneurship Education and Technology Transfer (with T. Byers)

in University Entrepreneurship and Technology Transfer: Process, Design, and Intellectual Property (Gary Libecap, ed.) Stamford: Elsevier Science/JAI Press, pp. 275-311. 2005. [View/download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

Challenges in University Technology Transfer and the Promising Role of Entrepreneurship Education (with T. Byers)

forthcoming in Handbook of University Technology Transfer (Albert Link, Donald S. Siegel, and Mike Wright, eds.) Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 2014. [View/download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

Entrepreneurship Education and Technology Transfer: Towards an Analysis, Synthesis and Integration of the Literature

Preparing for submission to Academy of Management Learning and Education [Click to show/hide abstract]

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Contact: Prof. Andrew Nelson
Lundquist College of Business
University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
T: 541.346.1569
E: ajnelson (at)