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Incentives for productivity, efficiency and usefulness in public sector research : the process involved and their possible failures
[Les mécanismes d'incitation à la productivité, à l'efficience et à l'utilité dans la recherche publique. Une analyse des processus en jeu et de leurs défaillances possibles]


  • Sylvie Bonny

    () (ECO-PUB - Economie Publique - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - AgroParisTech, INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique)


Using agency/contract theory, among other tools, this paper analyses the mechanisms that coordinate public sector research with social demand. The characteristics of public sector research and the importance of informational asymmetry in this field are outlined. The various incentive mechanisms that can ensure a certain level of productivity and efficiency from public sector research workers are examined (pressure to publish, priority rule, competition, etc.), with their advantages and disadvantages (over-specialization of scientists and the very narrow focus of most research, for example). The questions "whom is public research useful to?" and "what is the direction of the work?" are then examined. The issues of the circulation of knowledge and property law in this field are also discussed, as well as utilization of science results. In the conclusion some pointers are mentioned to improve the mechanisms that coordinate research and society.

Suggested Citation

  • Sylvie Bonny, 1997. "Incentives for productivity, efficiency and usefulness in public sector research : the process involved and their possible failures
    [Les mécanismes d'incitation à la productivité, à l'efficience et
    ," Post-Print hal-01793701, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01793701
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alchian, Armen A & Demsetz, Harold, 1972. "Production , Information Costs, and Economic Organization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(5), pages 777-795, December.
    2. Baumol, William J, 1982. "Contestable Markets: An Uprising in the Theory of Industry Structure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(1), pages 1-15, March.
    3. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters,in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    5. Dominique Foray, 1991. "Economie et politique de la science: les développements théoriques récents," Revue Française d'Économie, Programme National Persée, vol. 6(4), pages 53-87.
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