The Emergence of Bioengineering Departments in the United States: Density Dependence or Strategic Interaction?
Lamos, Erin Elisabeth
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This paper analyzes the founding rate of bioengineering departments in the United States. It takes the density dependence model from organizational ecology literature as the starting point of the analysis. This model predicts that founding rates of organizational populations are driven by population density, which represents processes of legitimation and competition, and by external environmental factors. The analysis finds support for density dependence predictions about the effect of population density on the founding rate of bioengineering departments. Further, this analysis finds that funding from the Whitaker Foundation has a significant positive impact on the founding rate of departments. The density dependence model is based on assumptions that individual actors are limited in their ability to act strategically and that competition is diffuse. In light of these assumptions and the threat to validity that would be posed if they were incorrect, the paper presents a discussion of strategic interaction and direct competition. I use an acceleration analysis comparison to conduct an initial study of the existence of endogenous interaction within the population of bioengineering departments. I find evidence of endogenous interaction through a process of cumulative social learning.