Policies for large-scale research facilities (LSRFs) often highlight their spillovers to industrial innovation and their contribution to the external connectivity of the regional innovation system hosting them. Arguably, the particular institutional features of LSRFs are conducive for collaborative research. However, based on data on publications produced in 2006–2009 at the Neutron Science Directorate of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee (United States), we find that internationalization of its collaborative research is restrained by coordination costs similar to those characterizing other institutional settings. Policies mandating LSRFs should consider that research prioritized on the basis of technological relevance limits the international reach of collaborations. Additionally, the propensity for international collaboration is lower for resident scientists than for those affiliated with domestic universities or government laboratories. Policies conceiving LSRFs as “knowledge attractors” therefore should consider the complementarities between research at a LSRF and in its academic context at a regional or national level.
- International research collaboration
- Big science
- Basic research
- Science policy