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Privatizing R&D: Patent Policy and the Commercialization of National Laboratory Technologies

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  • Adam B. Jaffe
  • Josh Lerner

Abstract

Despite their magnitude and potential economic impact, federal R&D expenditures outside of research universities have been little scrutinized by economists. This paper examines whether the series of initiatives since 1980 that have sought to encourage the patenting and technology transfer at the national laboratories have had a significant impact, and how the features of these facilities affected their success in commercialization. Employing both case studies of and databases about the U.S. Department of Energy's laboratories, we challenge much of the conventional wisdom. The policy changes of the 1980s had a substantial impact on the patenting activity by the national laboratories, which have gradually reached parity in patents per R&D dollar with research universities. Using citation data, we show that, unlike universities, the quality of the laboratory patents has remained constant or even increased as their numbers have grown. The cross-sectional patterns are generally consistent with theoretical suggestions regarding the impact and determinants of the decision to privatize government functions.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7064.

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Date of creation: Apr 1999
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Publication status: published as "Reinventing Public R&D: Patent Law and Technology Transfer from Federal Laboratories", Rand Journal of Economics, 32 (Spring 2001) 167-198.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7064

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References

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  1. Adam B. Jaffe & Michael S. Fogarty & Bruce A. Banks, 1997. "Evidence from Patents and Patent Citations on the Impact of NASA and Other Federal Labs on Commercial Innovation," NBER Working Papers 6044, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1994. "Politicians and Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(4), pages 995-1025, November.
  3. Nicolas Barberis & Maxin Boycho & Andrei Shleifer & Natalia Tsukanova, 1995. "How Does Privatization Work? Evidence from the Russian Shops," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1721, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Paula E. Stephan, 1996. "The Economics of Science," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1199-1235, September.
  5. Jaffe, Adam B & Trajtenberg, Manuel & Henderson, Rebecca, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-98, August.
  6. Lang, Larry H P & Stulz, Rene M, 1994. "Tobin's q, Corporate Diversification, and Firm Performance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(6), pages 1248-80, December.
  7. Jaffe, Adam B, 1989. "Real Effects of Academic Research," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 957-70, December.
  8. David S. Scharfstein & Jeremy C. Stein, 1997. "The Dark Side of Internal Capital Markets: Divisional Rent-Seeking and Inefficient Investment," NBER Working Papers 5969, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1997. "Privatization in the United States," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(3), pages 447-471, Autumn.
  10. Lerner, Josh, 1999. "The Government as Venture Capitalist: The Long-Run Impact of the SBIR Program," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 72(3), pages 285-318, July.
  11. Lerner, Josh, 1995. " Venture Capitalists and the Oversight of Private Firms," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(1), pages 301-18, March.
  12. Maxim Boycko & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1993. "Privatizing Russia," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 24(2), pages 139-192.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Karlsson, Charlie & Warda, Peter & Gråsjö, Urban, 2012. "Spatial Knowledge Spillovers in Europe: A Meta-Analysis," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 280, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
  2. Adam B. Jaffe, 1999. "The U.S. Patent System in Transition: Policy Innovation and the Innovation Process," NBER Working Papers 7280, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Paul A. David, 2005. "Can ‘Open Science’ be Protected from the Evolving Regime of IPR Protections?," Industrial Organization 0502010, EconWPA.
  4. Marc-Hubert Depret & Abdelillah Hamdouch, 2004. "La gouvernance des jeunes entreprises innovantes:un éclairage analytique à partir du cas des sociétés de biotechnologies," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie, revues.org, vol. 7(2), pages 67-94, June.
  5. Hoppe, Heidrun C. & Ozdenoren, Emre, 2005. "Intermediation in Innovation," CEPR Discussion Papers 4891, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Wang, Heli & Chen, Wei-Ru, 2010. "Is firm-specific innovation associated with greater value appropriation? The roles of environmental dynamism and technological diversity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 141-154, February.
  7. Keely,L.C., 2000. "Using patents in growth models," Working papers 30, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.

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