Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

The Historical Origins of 'Open Science': An Essay on Patronage, Reputation and Common Agency Contracting in the Scientific Revolution

Contents:

Author Info

  • David Paul A.

    (Stanford University & The University of Oxford)

Abstract

This essay examines the economics of patronage in the production of knowledge and its influence upon the historical formation of key elements in the ethos and organizational structure of publicly funded `open science.' The emergence during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries of the idea and practice of `open science' was a distinctive and vital organizational aspect of the Scientific Revolution. It represented a break from the previously dominant ethos of secrecy in the pursuit of Nature's Secrets, to a new set of norms, incentives, and organizational structures that reinforced scientific researchers' commitments to rapid disclosure of new knowledge. The rise of `cooperative rivalries' in the revelation of new knowledge, is seen as a functional response to heightened asymmetric information problems posed for the Renaissance system of court-patronage of the arts and sciences; pre-existing informational asymmetries had been exacerbated by the claims of mathematicians and the increasing practical reliance upon new mathematical techniques in a variety of `contexts of application.' Reputational competition among Europe's noble patrons motivated much of their efforts to attract to their courts the most prestigious natural philosophers, was no less crucial in the workings of that system than was the concern among their would-be clients to raise their peer-based reputational status. In late Renaissance Europe, the feudal legacy of fragmented political authority had resulted in relations between noble patrons and their savant-clients that resembled the situation modern economists describe as `common agency contracting in substitutes' -- competition among incompletely informed principals for the dedicated services of multiple agents. These conditions tended to result in contract terms (especially with regard to autonomy and financial support) that left agent client members of the nascent scientific communities better positioned to retain larger information rents on their specialized knowledge. This encouraged entry into their emerging disciplines, and enabled them collectively to develop a stronger degree of professional autonomy for their programs of inquiry within the increasingly specialized and formal scientific academies (such the Académie royale des Sciences and the Royal Society) that had attracted the patronage of rival absolutist States of Western Europe during the latter part of the seventeenth century. The institutionalization of `open science' that took place within those settings is shown to have continuities with the use by scientists of the earlier humanist academies, and with the logic of regal patronage, rather than being driven by the material requirements of new observational and experimental techniques.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cas.2008.3.2/cas.2008.3.2.1040/cas.2008.3.2.1040.xml?format=INT
Download Restriction: For access to full text, subscription to the journal or payment for the individual article is required.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Bibliographic Info

Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal Capitalism and Society.

Volume (Year): 3 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (October)
Pages: 1-106

as in new window
Handle: RePEc:bpj:capsoc:v:3:y:2008:i:2:n:5

Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.degruyter.com

Order Information:
Web: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cas

Related research

Keywords:

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

References

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
as in new window
  1. Harold M. Groves, Chairman, Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, 1962. "The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number univ62-1, July.
  2. James Bessen & Eric Maskin, 2009. "Sequential innovation, patents, and imitation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 611-635.
  3. Epstein, S. R., 1998. "Craft Guilds, Apprenticeship, and Technological Change in Preindustrial Europe," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 684-713, September.
  4. David, Paul A. & Olsen, Trond E., 1992. "Technology adoption, learning spillovers, and the optimal duration of patent-based monopolies," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 517-543, December.
  5. Richard Nelson, 1962. "Introduction to "The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors"," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 1-16 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Web 2.0, the possum, the public and the private
    by Nicholas Gruen in Club Troppo on 2010-08-20 04:23:41
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Lee Lane & W. Montgomery, 2014. "An institutional critique of new climate scenarios," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 447-458, February.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bpj:capsoc:v:3:y:2008:i:2:n:5. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Peter Golla).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.