My research investigates the development, commercialization and diffusion of technologies and new technology-based fields. I am particularly interested the roles of universities versus firms and of occupational factors in contributing to these processes.

My work leverages both quantitative and qualitative data, and almost always investigates processes over time. Qualitatively, I am trained as both an ethnographer and a historian, and I spend significant time in various archives and "in the field" engaged in interviews and observations of practitioners. Quantitatively, I employ large databases of patents, publications, technology licenses, employment trajectories, and other measures, which I use to construct networks and comparisons between individuals, organizations and technologies themselves.

My work focuses primarily on four fields -- digital audio and computer music; information technology; green (sustainable) chemistry; and biotechnology -- and can be roughly categorized into the themes listed to the right. (The headings to the right 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)

    Research themes:

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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)

Research Policy 2014. Vol 43, no 6: pp. 927-940.
Short version appears in 2012 Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings [View/Download] [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

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

MIT Press book [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)

Academy of Management Journal. 2015. Vol 58, no 1: pp. 136-168. [View/Download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

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

Academy of Management Journal. 2014. Vol 57, no 3: pp. 892-928. [View/Download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

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

Research Policy. 2014. Vol 43: pp. 1144-1156. [View/Download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

"When the General Meets the Particular: The Practices and Challenges of Inter-Organizational Knowledge Reuse" (with I. Waisberg)

Under second review 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 Organization Science [Click to show/hide abstract]

Innovation Diffusion Processes and Influences

"How to Share 'A Really Good Secret': Managing Sharing/Secrecy Tensions around Scientific Knowledge Disclosure"

Organization Science 2016. Vol 27, no 2: pp. 265-285 [View/download] [Click to show/hide abstract]

"'If Chemists Don't Do It, Who's Going To?' Peer-Driven Occupational Change and the Emergence of Green Chemistry" (with J. Howard-Grenville, A. Earle, J. Haack and D. Young)

Forthcoming in Administrative Science Quarterly [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]

"Artistic Endeavors and Technological Capabilities: Strategies and their Consequences in the Shift from Analog to Digital Sound Synthesis" (with M. Tripsas and C. Anthony)

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'imprenditorialità e dell'innovazione McGraw-Hill. 2011.
[Click to show/hide abstract]

"Teaching Technology Commercialization: Introduction to the Special Issue" (with E. Monsen)

Journal of Technology Transfer 2014. Vol 39, no 5: pp. 774-779. [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]

"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]

"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)