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Career progress in centralized academic systems: social capital and institutions in France and Italy

Kites Working Papers 26 (with M. Pezzoni and F. Lissoni)

Notions of social capital have loomed large in the literature on academic careers, but it has proved difficult to disentangle the various benefits social capital bring to individual scientists. Besides, most of the relevant literature is quite US-centric and provide little clues on how the notion can be extend to different academic systems. We examine the career profiles of a large sample of French and Italian academic physicists between 2000 and 2003/2005, and propose measures of social capital that take into account the two countries' institutional specificities. We find that rank advancements are explained not only by individual variables (such as productivity, seniority and gender), but also by relational ones, such as: the scientist's affiliation to important public research organizations (France); and her social ties with senior members of the discipline, who exercise control over careers (Italy). Significant differences exist between the two countries also with respect to the importance of productivity and gender.


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