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Commercializing Science: Is There a University "Brain Drain" from Academic Entrepreneurship?

  • Andrew A. Toole

    ()

    (Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901; and Centre for European Economic Research, 68161 Mannheim, Germany)

  • Dirk Czarnitzki

    ()

    (Department of Managerial Economics, Strategy and Innovation, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium; Centre for R& D Monitoring at K.U. Leuven; and Centre for European Economic Research, 68161 Mannheim, Germany)

When academic researchers participate in commercialization using for-profit firms, there is a potentially costly trade-off--their time and effort are diverted away from academic knowledge production. This is a form of brain drain on the not-for-profit research sector that may reduce knowledge accumulation and adversely impact long-run economic growth. In this paper, we examine the economic significance of the brain drain phenomenon using scientist-level panel data. We identify life scientists who start or join for-profit firms using information from the Small Business Innovation Research program and analyze the research performance of these scientists relative to a control group of randomly selected research peers. Combining our statistical results with data on the number of university spin-offs in the United States from 1994 to 2004, we find the academic brain drain has a nontrivial impact on knowledge production in the not-for-profit research sector.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1100.1192
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Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 56 (2010)
Issue (Month): 9 (September)
Pages: 1599-1614

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:56:y:2010:i:9:p:1599-1614
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