The Benefits of Risky Science

Forthcoming in the Economic Journal

50 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2010 Last revised: 6 Aug 2015

See all articles by Michael Mandler

Michael Mandler

University of London, Royal Holloway College - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 2015


When scientists choose research projects that have the highest expected value an externality can appear. Slight variations on existing work will be selected in preference to new lines of research that can, when followed up selectively, generate more expected value over time. New research enjoys two advantages: it is riskier and hence more likely to lead to high-value follow-up projects and it can generate more follow-up projects. Several cures for the externality are analyzed: less communication among scientists, markets for the right to undertake follow-up projects, and the pursuit of citations rather than expected value as a goal for scientists.

Keywords: science, innovation, externalities, citations, trees

JEL Classification: D62, D83, H41, Z19

Suggested Citation

Mandler, Michael, The Benefits of Risky Science (July 2015). Forthcoming in the Economic Journal, Available at SSRN: or

Michael Mandler (Contact Author)

University of London, Royal Holloway College - Department of Economics ( email )

Royal Holloway College
University of London
Egham, Surrey TW20 0EX
United Kingdom
+44 1784 443985 (Phone)


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics