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University Licensing: Harnessing or Tarnishing Faculty Research?

  • Jerry Thursby
  • Marie Thursby

The central issue we consider is whether university patent licensing, afforded by the Bayh‐Dole Act, has diverted universities away from their basic research mission. The act, passed in 1980, was intended to stimulate the transfer of federally funded research to industry. While statistics on licensing activity suggest that it has served this purpose, they have also fueled debates as to whether licensing has also led faculty to abandon basic research agendas. We show that, quite to the contrary, when realistic complexities of the research environment are taken into account, it is just as natural to expect basic research productivity to have been enhanced by licensing. Our evidence on disclosure, funding, and publications (their nature and impact) of faculty in 11 universities lends credence to the notion that, rather than diverting faculty research, licensing is part of a flurry of activities that can be associated with fundamental discoveries from fairly basic research.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/605856
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Innovation Policy and the Economy.

Volume (Year): 10 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 159 - 189

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:ipolec:doi:10.1086/605856
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  1. Kira Fabrizio & Alberto Di Minin, 2004. "Commercializing the laboratory: the relationship between faculty patenting and publishing," Working Papers 200402, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Istituto di Management.
  2. Paula E. Stephan, 1996. "The Economics of Science," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 1199-1235, September.
  3. Pierre Azoulay & Waverly Ding & Toby Stuart, 2007. "The Determinants of Faculty Patenting Behavior: Demographics or Opportunities?," NBER Chapters, in: Academic Science and Entrepreneurship: Dual Engines of Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Marie Thursby & Jerry Thursby & Swasti Gupta-Mukherjee, 2005. "Are There Real Effects of Licensing on Academic Research? A Life Cycle View," NBER Working Papers 11497, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. 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.
  6. Philippe Aghion & Mathias Dewatripont & Jeremy C. Stein, 2008. "Academic freedom, private-sector focus, and the process of innovation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(3), pages 617-635.
  7. Czarnitzki, Dirk & Glänzel, Wolfgang & Hussinger, Katrin, 2009. "Heterogeneity of patenting activity and its implications for scientific research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 26-34, February.
  8. Jerry Thursby & Marie Thursby, 2005. "Gender Patterns of Research and Licensing Activity of Science and Engineering Faculty," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 343-353, October.
  9. Brent Goldfarb & Gerald Marschke & Amy Smith, 2009. "Scholarship and inventive activity in the university: complements or substitutes?," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(8), pages 743-756.
  10. Geuna, Aldo & Nesta, Lionel J.J., 2006. "University patenting and its effects on academic research: The emerging European evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(6), pages 790-807, July.
  11. Azoulay, Pierre & Ding, Waverly & Stuart, Toby, 2007. "The determinants of faculty patenting behavior: Demographics or opportunities?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 599-623, August.
  12. Saul Lach & Mark Schankerman, 2004. "Royalty Sharing and Technology Licensing in Universities," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 252-264, 04/05.
  13. Jerry Thursby & Anne Fuller & Marie Thursby, 2007. "US Faculty Patenting: Inside and Outside the University," NBER Working Papers 13256, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. 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.
  15. Pierre Azoulay & Waverly Ding & Toby Stuart, 2006. "The Impact of Academic Patenting on the Rate, Quality, and Direction of (Public) Research Output," NBER Working Papers 11917, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Meyer, Martin, 2006. "Are patenting scientists the better scholars?: An exploratory comparison of inventor-authors with their non-inventing peers in nano-science and technology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(10), pages 1646-1662, December.
  17. Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2003. "Are Faculty Critical? Their Role in University-Industry Licensing," Emory Economics 0320, Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta).
  18. Jensen, Richard A. & Thursby, Jerry G. & Thursby, Marie C., 2003. "Disclosure and licensing of University inventions: 'The best we can do with the s**t we get to work with'," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(9), pages 1271-1300, November.
  19. Stein, Jeremy C. & Dewatripont, Mathias & Aghion, Philippe, 2008. "Academic Freedom, Private-Sector Focus, and the Process of Innovation," Scholarly Articles 3637074, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  20. Ajay Agrawal & Rebecca Henderson, 2002. "Putting Patents in Context: Exploring Knowledge Transfer from MIT," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 44-60, January.
  21. Scott Stern, 2004. "Do Scientists Pay to Be Scientists?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(6), pages 835-853, June.
  22. Levin, Sharon G & Stephan, Paula E, 1991. "Research Productivity over the Life Cycle: Evidence for Academic Scientists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 114-32, March.
  23. Thursby, Jerry G. & Thursby, Marie C., 2011. "Faculty participation in licensing: Implications for research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 20-29, February.
  24. Stefano Breschi & Francesco Lissoni & Fabio Montobbio, 2006. "University patenting and scientific productivity. A quantitative study of Italian academic inventors," KITeS Working Papers 189, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Nov 2006.
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