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Commercializing Open Science: Deep Space Communications as the Lead Market for Shannon Theory, 1960–73

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  • Joel West

Abstract

Recent research on the commercialization of scientific discoveries has emphasized the use of formal intellectual property rights (notably patents) as a mechanism for aligning the academic and entrepreneurial incentives for commercialization. Without such explicit intellectual property rights and licensing, how is such open science commercialized? This paper examines the commercialization of Claude Shannon's theory of communications, developed at and freely disseminated by Bell Telephone Laboratories. It analyses the first 25 years of Shannon theory, the role of MIT in developing and extending that theory, and the importance of deep space communications as the initial market for commercialization. It contrasts the early paths of two MIT‐related spinoffs that pursued this opportunity, including key technical and business trajectories driven by information theory. Based on this evidence, the paper provides observations about commercializing open science, particularly for engineering‐related fields.

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  • Joel West, 2008. "Commercializing Open Science: Deep Space Communications as the Lead Market for Shannon Theory, 1960–73," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(8), pages 1506-1532, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:45:y:2008:i:8:p:1506-1532
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6486.2008.00807.x
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2008.00807.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Gideon D. Markman & Donald S. Siegel & Mike Wright, 2008. "Research and Technology Commercialization," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(8), pages 1401-1423, December.
    2. Ulrich Lichtenthaler & Eckhard Lichtenthaler, 2009. "A Capability‐Based Framework for Open Innovation: Complementing Absorptive Capacity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(8), pages 1315-1338, December.
    3. Annelore Huyghe & Mirjam Knockaert & Mike Wright & Evila Piva, 2014. "Technology transfer offices as boundary spanners in the pre-spin-off process: the case of a hybrid model," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 289-307, August.
    4. Janne Harkonen & Harri Haapasalo & Kai Hanninen, 2013. "Productisation: A Literature Review," Diversity, Technology, and Innovation for Operational Competitiveness: Proceedings of the 2013 International Conference on Technology Innovation and Industrial Management,, ToKnowPress.
    5. Tina C. Ambos & Kristiina Mäkelä & Julian Birkinshaw & Pablo D'Este, 2008. "When Does University Research Get Commercialized? Creating Ambidexterity in Research Institutions," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(8), pages 1424-1447, December.
    6. Vicente-Saez, Ruben & Martinez-Fuentes, Clara, 2018. "Open Science now: A systematic literature review for an integrated definition," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 428-436.
    7. Sengupta, Abhijit & Ray, Amit S., 2017. "University research and knowledge transfer: A dynamic view of ambidexterity in british universities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(5), pages 881-897.
    8. Joel West, 2014. "Too little, too early: California’s transient advantage in the photovoltaic solar industry," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 39(3), pages 487-501, June.
    9. Harkonen, Janne & Haapasalo, Harri & Hanninen, Kai, 2015. "Productisation: A review and research agenda," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 164(C), pages 65-82.
    10. Jeffery S. McMullen & Dimo Dimov, 2013. "Time and the Entrepreneurial Journey: The Problems and Promise of Studying Entrepreneurship as a Process," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(8), pages 1481-1512, December.
    11. Gideon D. Markman & Peter T. Gianiodis & Phillip H. Phan, 2009. "Supply‐Side Innovation and Technology Commercialization," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(4), pages 625-649, June.
    12. Erikson, Truls & Knockaert, Mirjam & Foo, Maw Der, 2015. "Enterprising scientists: The shaping role of norms, experience and scientific productivity," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 211-221.
    13. Annelore Huyghe & Mirjam Knockaert, 2015. "The influence of organizational culture and climate on entrepreneurial intentions among research scientists," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 138-160, February.

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