In professional sports, when an important player leaves one team for another, the new team is often the big winner. The old team is left to fill the gap, while facing an improved opponent. But scientific research and development (R&D) works differently, according to an Academy of Management Journal article.

Departing scientists can serve as bridges between their old and new employers, creating the possibility of mutually beneficial collaborations, Stefan Wagner of ESMT Berlin and Martin C. Goossen of Old Dominion University concluded in “Knowing Me, Knowing You: Inventor Mobility and the Formation of Technology-Oriented Alliances.”

“We find that hiring R&D employees from a competitor is positively and significantly related to the likelihood of collaboration between the firm and this competitor,” Wagner and Goossen wrote.

Read more at AOM Insights