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

  • Philippe Aghion
  • Mathias Dewatripont
  • Jeremy C. Stein

We develop a model that clarifies the respective advantages and disadvantages of academic and private-sector research. Our model assumes full protection of intellectual property rights at all stages of the development process, and hence does not rely on lack of appropriability or spillovers to generate a rationale for academic research. Instead, we focus on 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%u2019s ability to direct scientists towards higher-payoff activities makes it more attractive for later-stage research.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11542.

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Date of creation: Aug 2005
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as 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.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11542
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Phone: 617-868-3900
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  1. Saul Lach & Mark Schankerman, 2003. "Incentives and Invention in Universities," NBER Working Papers 9727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1997. "Formal and Real Authority in Organizations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 1-29, February.
  3. Oliver Hart & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1996. "The Proper Scope of Government: Theory and an Application to Prisons," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1778, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  4. Oliver Hart & John Moore, 1988. "Property Rights and the Nature of the Firm," Working papers 495, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  5. Kaplan, Steven N. & Sensoy, Berk A. & Strömberg, Per, 2005. "What are Firms? Evolution from Birth to Public Companies," SIFR Research Report Series 36, Institute for Financial Research.
  6. Ajay Agrawal & Rebecca Henderson, 2002. "Putting Patents in Context: Exploring Knowledge Transfer from MIT," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 44-60, January.
  7. 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.
  8. Holmstrom, Bengt, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 66(1), pages 169-82, 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. Scott Stern, 2004. "Do Scientists Pay to Be Scientists?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(6), pages 835-853, June.
  11. Atif Mian, 2008. "Incentives in Markets, Firms, and Governments," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(2), pages 273-306, October.
  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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