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Funding Scientific Knowledge: Selection, Disclosure and the Public-Private Portfolio

  • Joshua Gans
  • Fiona E. Murray

This paper examines argues that while two distinct perspectives characterize the foundations of the public funding of research - filling a selection gap and solving a disclosure problem - in fact both the selection choices of public funders and their criteria for disclosure and commercialization shape the level and type of funding for research and the disclosures that arise as a consequence. In making our argument, we begin by reviewing project selection criteria and policies towards disclosure and commercialization (including patent rights) made by major funding organizations, noting the great variation between these institutions. We then provide a model of how selection criteria and funding conditions imposed by funders interact with the preferences of scientists to shape those projects that accept public funds and the overall level of openness in research. Our analysis reveals complex and unexpected relationships between public funding, private funding, and public disclosure of research. We show, for example, that funding choices made by public agencies can lead to unintended, paradoxical effects, providing short-term openness while stifling longer-term innovation. Implications for empirical evaluation and an agenda for future research are discussed.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16980.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Funding Scientific Knowledge: Selection, Disclosure and the Public-Private Portfolio , Joshua S. Gans, Fiona Murray. in The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited , Lerner and Stern. 2012
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16980
Note: PR
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  1. Robert E. Litan & Lesa Mitchell & E. J. Reedy, 2008. "Commercializing University Innovations: Alternative Approaches," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 8, pages 31-57 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Albert Banal-Estañol & Inés Macho-Stadler, 2010. "Scientific and Commercial Incentives in R&D: Research versus Development?," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 19(1), pages 185-221, 03.
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