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Inventor Moral Hazard in University Licensing: The Role of Contracts

  • Emmanuel Dechenaux
  • Jerry Thursby
  • Marie C. Thursby

We examine commonly observed forms of payment, such as milestones, royalties, or consulting contracts as ways of engaging inventors in the development of licensed inventions. Our theoretical model shows that when milestones are feasible, royalties are not optimal unless the licensing firm is risk averse. The model also predicts the use of consulting contracts which improve the firm's ability to monitor inventor effort. Because these contracts increase the firm's expected profits, the upfront fee that the university can charge is higher than otherwise. These results therefore support the commonly observed university policy of allowing faculty to consult with licensing firms outside of their university contracts. They also support firm policies of including milestones. An empirical analysis based on a survey of 112 businesses that license-in university inventions supports the complementarity of milestones and consulting suggested by the theory.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14226.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Dechenaux, Emmanuel & Thursby, Jerry & Thursby, Marie, 2011. "Inventor moral hazard in university licensing: The role of contracts," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 94-104, February.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14226
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  1. Macho-Stadler, Ines & Perez-Castrillo, David & Veugelers, Reinhilde, 2007. "Licensing of university inventions: The role of a technology transfer office," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 483-510, June.
  2. Saul Lach & Mark Schankerman, 2003. "Incentives and invention in universities," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Nov.
  3. Di Gregorio, Dante & Shane, Scott, 2003. "Why do some universities generate more start-ups than others?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 209-227, February.
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  8. Macho-Stadler, Ines & Martinez-Giralt, Xavier & David Perez-Castrillo, J., 1996. "The role of information in licensing contract design," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 43-57, January.
  9. Thursby, Marie & Thursby, Jerry & Gupta-Mukherjee, Swasti, 2007. "Are there real effects of licensing on academic research? A life cycle view," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 577-598, August.
  10. 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.
  11. Marie Thursby & Jerry Thursby & Emmanuel Dechenaux, 2005. "Shirking, Sharing Risk, and Shelving: The Role of University License Contracts," NBER Working Papers 11128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Bousquet, Alain & Cremer, Helmuth & Ivaldi, Marc & Wolkowicz, Michel, 1998. "Risk sharing in licensing," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 535-554, September.
  13. Anand, Bharat N & Khanna, Tarun, 2000. "The Structure of Licensing Contracts," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(1), pages 103-35, March.
  14. Jeannette Colyvas & Michael Crow & Annetine Gelijns & Roberto Mazzoleni & Richard R. Nelson & Nathan Rosenberg & Bhaven N. Sampat, 2002. "How Do University Inventions Get Into Practice?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 61-72, January.
  15. Thursby, Jerry G & Jensen, Richard & Thursby, Marie C, 2001. " Objectives, Characteristics and Outcomes of University Licensing: A Survey of Major U.S. Universities," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(1-2), pages 59-72, January.
  16. InÉs Macho-Stadler & David Pérez-Castrillo & Reinhilde Veugelers, 2008. "Designing Contracts for University Spin-offs," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17(1), pages 185-218, 03.
  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. Jean-Jacques Laffont, 1989. "The Economics of Uncertainty and Information," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262121360, June.
  19. Perkmann, Markus & Walsh, Kathryn, 2008. "Engaging the scholar: Three types of academic consulting and their impact on universities and industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 1884-1891, December.
  20. 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.
  21. Aghion, Philippe & Tirole, Jean, 1994. "On the Management of Innovation," IDEI Working Papers 36, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
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  23. Keith E. Maskus, 2000. "Intellectual Property Rights in the Global Economy," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 99.
  24. John Beath & Robert Owen & Joanna Poyago-Theotoky & David Ulph, 2000. "Optimal Incentives for Income-Generation within Universities," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 200007, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
  25. Richard Jensen & Jerry Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2010. "University-Industry Spillovers, Government Funding, and Industrial Consulting," NBER Working Papers 15732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Ashish Arora & Andrea Fosfuri & Alfonso Gambardella, 2004. "Markets for Technology: The Economics of Innovation and Corporate Strategy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262511819, June.
  27. Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2007. "University licensing," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 23(4), pages 620-639, Winter.
  28. 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.
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