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Who Is Selling the Ivory Tower? Sources of Growth in University Licensing

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  • Jerry G. Thursby

    (Department of Economics, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322)

  • Marie C. Thursby

    (Dupree College of Management, Georgia Tech & NBER)

Abstract

Historically, commercial use of university research has been viewed in terms of spillovers. Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in technology transfer through licensing as universities attempt to appropriate the returns from faculty research. This change has prompted concerns regarding the source of this growth-specifically, whether it suggests a change in the nature of university research. We develop an intermediate input model to examine the extent to which the growth in licensing is due to the productivity of observable inputs or driven by a change in the propensity of faculty and administrators to engage in commercializing university research. We model licensing as a three-stage process, each involving multiple inputs. Nonparametric programming techniques are applied to survey data from 64 universities to calculate total factor productivity (TFP) growth in each stage. To examine the sources of TFP growth, the productivity analysis is augmented by survey evidence from businesses who license-in university inventions. Results suggest that increased licensing is due primarily to an increased willingness of faculty and administrators to license and increased business reliance on external R&D rather than a shift in faculty research.

Suggested Citation

  • Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2002. "Who Is Selling the Ivory Tower? Sources of Growth in University Licensing," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 90-104, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:48:y:2002:i:1:p:90-104
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.48.1.90.14271
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mansfield, Edwin, 1995. "Academic Research Underlying Industrial Innovations:," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 77(1), pages 55-65, February.
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    5. Thursby, Jerry G & Jensen, Richard & Thursby, Marie C, 2001. "Objectives, Characteristics and Outcomes of University Licensing: A Survey of Major U.S. Universities," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(1-2), pages 59-72, January.
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    11. Thursby, Jerry G. & Kemp, Sukanya, 2002. "Growth and productive efficiency of university intellectual property licensing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 109-124, January.
    12. Marie Thursby & Richard Jensen, 2001. "Proofs and Prototypes for Sale: The Licensing of University Inventions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(1), pages 240-259, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    University Licensing; Invention Disclosures; Patents; Entrepreneurial Activity;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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