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The blurring boundaries of research: towards a property rights explanation of knowledge transfer in biotechnology


  • Bart Clarysse
  • Koen Debackere
  • Ans Heirman


This paper investigates how the different mechanisms for knowledge transfer are linked to the underlying technological life cycle. Following the most recent developments in the organizational economics literature, we analyze knowledge transfer from an incentive point of view. We modified the basic version of the incomplete contracts model (or property rights model) to include knowledge as an asset. The empirical hypotheses which can be derived from this model are contrasted to other streams of thought such as organizational ecology. Using this comparison as a guideline, we undertake a first empirical test of this property rights model in two technological subfields of biotechnology: monoclonal antibodies and protein engineering. The results, though tentative, are challenging: the property rights model clearly adds to our insights in spin-offs as a mechanism for knowledge transfer and in the incentive factors that influence an organization's decision to enter a technological collaboration with a university or another biotech firm.

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  • Bart Clarysse & Koen Debackere & Ans Heirman, 2001. "The blurring boundaries of research: towards a property rights explanation of knowledge transfer in biotechnology," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 169(169), pages 85-113.
  • Handle: RePEc:bxr:bxrceb:y:2001:v:0:i:169:p:85-113

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Antoine Bonleu & Gilbert Cette & Guillaume Horny, 2013. "Capital utilization and retirement," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(24), pages 3483-3494, August.
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    4. Hart, Robert A. & McGregor, Peter G., 1988. "The returns to labour services in West German manufacturing industry," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 947-963, April.
    5. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 1994. "Insider Power, Wage Discrimination and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(424), pages 571-583, May.
    6. Betancourt,Roger R. & Clague,Christopher K., 2008. "Capital Utilization," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521070287, March.
    7. Weiss, Andrew W, 1980. "Job Queues and Layoffs in Labor Markets with Flexible Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(3), pages 526-538, June.
    8. Leslie, Derek G & Wise, John, 1980. "The Productivity of Hours in U.K. Manufacturing and Production Industries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(357), pages 74-84, March.
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    JEL classification:

    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • L24 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Contracting Out; Joint Ventures
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives


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