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Of Mice and Academics: Examining the Effect of Openness on Innovation

Author

Listed:
  • Fiona Murray
  • Philippe Aghion
  • Mathias Dewatripont
  • Julian Kolev
  • Scott Stern

Abstract

Scientific freedom and openness are hallmarks of academia: relative to their counterparts in industry, academics maintain discretion over their research agenda and allow others to build on their discoveries. This paper examines the relationship between openness and freedom, building on recent models emphasizing that, from an economic perspective, freedom is the granting of control rights to researchers. Within this framework, openness of upstream research does not simply encourage higher levels of downstream exploitation. It also raises the incentives for additional upstream research by encouraging the establishment of entirely new research directions. In other words, within academia, restrictions on scientific openness (such as those created by formal intellectual property (IP)) may limit the diversity and experimentation of basic research itself. We test this hypothesis by examining a "natural experiment" in openness within the academic community: NIH agreements during the late 1990s that circumscribed IP restrictions for academics regarding certain genetically engineered mice. Using a sample of engineered mice that are linked to specific scientific papers (some affected by the NIH agreements and some not), we implement a differences-in-differences estimator to evaluate how the level and type of follow-on research using these mice changes after the NIH-induced increase in openness. We find a significant increase in the level of follow-on research. Moreover, this increase is driven by a substantial increase in the rate of exploration of more diverse research paths. Overall, our findings highlight a neglected cost of IP: reductions in the diversity of experimentation that follows from a single idea.

Suggested Citation

  • Fiona Murray & Philippe Aghion & Mathias Dewatripont & Julian Kolev & Scott Stern, 2009. "Of Mice and Academics: Examining the Effect of Openness on Innovation," NBER Working Papers 14819, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14819 Note: EFG
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
    2. Murray, Fiona, 2002. "Innovation as co-evolution of scientific and technological networks: exploring tissue engineering," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 31(8-9), pages 1389-1403, December.
    3. Rebecca Henderson & Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1998. "Universities As A Source Of Commercial Technology: A Detailed Analysis Of University Patenting, 1965-1988," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 119-127, February.
    4. Owen-Smith, Jason & Powell, Walter W., 2003. "The expanding role of university patenting in the life sciences: assessing the importance of experience and connectivity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1695-1711, October.
    5. Murray, Fiona & Stern, Scott, 2007. "Do formal intellectual property rights hinder the free flow of scientific knowledge?: An empirical test of the anti-commons hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 648-687, August.
    6. Fiona E. Murray & Scott Stern, 2007. "Do Formal Intellectual Property Rights Hinder the Free Flow of Scientific Knowledge?: An Empirical Test of the Anti-Commons Hypothesis," NBER Chapters,in: Academic Science and Entrepreneurship: Dual Engines of Growth National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jeffrey L. Furman & Scott Stern, 2006. "Climbing Atop the Shoulders of Giants: The Impact of Institutions on Cumulative Research," NBER Working Papers 12523, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexy, Oliver & Reitzig, Markus, 2013. "Private–collective innovation, competition, and firms’ counterintuitive appropriation strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 895-913.
    2. Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Bhaven N. Sampat, 2011. "The Diffusion of Scientific Knowledge across Time and Space: Evidence from Professional Transitions for the Superstars of Medicine," NBER Chapters,in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, pages 107-155 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Anders Broström, 2012. "Firms’ rationales for interaction with research universities and the principles for public co-funding," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 313-329, June.
    4. Dosi, Giovanni & Nelson, Richard R., 2010. "Technical Change and Industrial Dynamics as Evolutionary Processes," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    5. Dirk Czarnitzki & Christian Rammer & Andrew Toole, 2014. "University spin-offs and the “performance premium”," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 43(2), pages 309-326, August.
    6. Gans, Joshua S. & Murray, Fiona E. & Stern, Scott, 2017. "Contracting over the disclosure of scientific knowledge: Intellectual property and academic publication," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 820-835.
    7. Joshua S. Gans & Fiona Murray, 2014. "Credit History: The Changing Nature of Scientific Credit," NBER Chapters,in: The Changing Frontier: Rethinking Science and Innovation Policy, pages 107-131 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. repec:wip:wpaper:6 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Thomas Hellmann & Enrico Perotti, 2011. "The Circulation of Ideas in Firms and Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(10), pages 1813-1826, October.
    10. Staudt, Joseph, 2017. "Mandating Access: Assessing the NIH's Public Access Policy," MPRA Paper 82981, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Simeth, Markus & Raffo, Julio D., 2013. "What makes companies pursue an Open Science strategy?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(9), pages 1531-1543.
    12. Chen, Yongmin & Sappington, david, 2016. "An Optimal Rule for Patent Damages Under Sequential Innovation," MPRA Paper 73438, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Boudreau, Kevin J. & Lakhani, Karim R., 2015. "“Open” disclosure of innovations, incentives and follow-on reuse: Theory on processes of cumulative innovation and a field experiment in computational biology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 4-19.
    14. Larsen, Maria Theresa, 2011. "The implications of academic enterprise for public science: An overview of the empirical evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 6-19, February.
    15. John T. Scott, 2016. "Creativity for invention insights: corporate strategies and opportunities for public entrepreneurship," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 43(4), pages 409-448, December.
    16. Jing-Yuan, Chiou, 2012. "In the shadow of giants," MPRA Paper 37033, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Ugo Pagano & Maria Alessandra Rossi, 2016. "The knowledge economy, the crash and the depression," Department of Economics University of Siena 741, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    18. Fehder, Daniel C. & Murray, Fiona & Stern, Scott, 2014. "Intellectual property rights and the evolution of scientific journals as knowledge platforms," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 83-94.
    19. Mueller-Langer, Frank & Scheufen, Marc & Waelbroeck, Patrick, 2017. "Does Online Access Promote Research in Developing Countries?," Discussion Papers in Economics 31973, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General

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