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Academic Freedom, Private-Sector Focus, and the Process of Innovation

  • Stein, Jeremy C.
  • Dewatripont, Mathias
  • Aghion, Philippe

We develop a model that clarifies the respective advantages and disadvantages of academic and private-sector research. Rather than relying on lack of appropriability or spillovers to generate a rationale for academic research, we emphasize control-rights considerations, and argue that the fundamental tradeoff between academia and the private sector is one of creative control versus focus. By serving as a precommitment mechanism that allows scientists to freely pursue their own interests, academia can be indispensable for early-stage research. At the same time, the private sector's ability to direct scientists toward higher-payoff activities makes it more attractive for later-stage research.

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File URL: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3637074/aghion_academicfreedom.pdf
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Paper provided by Harvard University Department of Economics in its series Scholarly Articles with number 3637074.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Publication status: Published in The RAND Journal of Economics
Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:3637074
Contact details of provider: Postal: Littauer Center, Cambridge, MA 02138
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Web page: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/

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  1. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," IDEI Working Papers 37, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
  2. 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.
  3. Kaplan, Steven & Sensoy, Berk A. & Strömberg, Per Johan, 2005. "What are Firms? Evolution from Birth to Public Companies," CEPR Discussion Papers 5224, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Saul Lach & Mark Schankerman, 2008. "Incentives and invention in universities," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 39(2), pages 403-433.
  5. Daron Acemoglu & Michael Kremer & Atif Mian, 2003. "Incentives in Markets, Firms and Governments," NBER Working Papers 9802, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Hart, Oliver D. & Moore, John, 1990. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Scholarly Articles 3448675, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Hart, Oliver & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1997. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1127-61, November.
  8. Ajay Agrawal & Rebecca Henderson, 2002. "Putting Patents in Context: Exploring Knowledge Transfer from MIT," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 44-60, January.
  9. Carmichael, H Lorne, 1988. "Incentives in Academics: Why Is There Tenure?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(3), pages 453-72, June.
  10. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 169-82, January.
  11. Scott Stern, 2004. "Do Scientists Pay to Be Scientists?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(6), pages 835-853, June.
  12. Hellmann, Thomas F & Perotti, Enrico C, 2006. "The Circulation of Ideas: Firms Versus Markets," CEPR Discussion Papers 5469, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. Michael S. McPherson & Morton Owen Schapiro, 1999. "Tenure Issues in Higher Education," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(1), pages 85-98, Winter.
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