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The Historical Origins of 'Open Science’: An Essay on Patronage, Reputation and Common Agency Contracting in the Scientific Revolution

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  • Paul David

    () (Knowledge Networks and Institutions for Innovation Program, Stanford University)

Abstract

This essay examines the economics of patronage and its influence upon key elements in the ethos and organizational structure of publicly funded open science. The emergence during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries of the idea and practice of “open science" was a distinctive organizational aspect of the Scientific Revolution. It represented a new set of norms, incentives, and organizational structures that reinforced scientific researchers' commitments to rapid disclosure of new knowledge. The rise of “cooperative rivalries” in the revelation of new knowledge, is seen as a functional response to heightened asymmetric information problems posed for the Renaissance system of court-patronage of the arts and sciences. In late Renaissance Europe, the feudal legacy of fragmented political authority had resulted in relations between noble patrons and their savant-clients that resembled the situation modern economists describe as "common agency contracting in substitutes"—competition among incompletely informed principals for the dedicated services of multiple agents.

Suggested Citation

  • Paul David, 2007. "The Historical Origins of 'Open Science’: An Essay on Patronage, Reputation and Common Agency Contracting in the Scientific Revolution," Discussion Papers 06-038, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:06-038
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. Epstein, S. R., 1998. "Craft Guilds, Apprenticeship, and Technological Change in Preindustrial Europe," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 58(03), pages 684-713, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lee Lane & W. Montgomery, 2014. "An institutional critique of new climate scenarios," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 447-458, February.
    2. Dominique Foray, 2012. "The Fragility of Experiential Knowledge," Chapters,in: Handbook of Knowledge and Economics, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. 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.
    4. Antonelli, Cristiano & David, Paul, 2015. "Knowledge, Institutions and Economic Policy: An Introduction," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201541, University of Turin.
    5. Joel Mokyr, 2016. "Institutions and the Origins of the Great Enrichment," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 44(2), pages 243-259, June.
    6. S. Ryan Johansson, 2010. "Medics, Monarchs and Mortality, 1600-1800: Origins of the Knowledge-Driven Health Transition in Europe," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _085, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    7. Fiona Murray, 2013. "Evaluating the Role of Science Philanthropy in American Research Universities," Innovation Policy and the Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 23-60.
    8. Powell, Walter W. & Giannella, Eric, 2010. "Collective Invention and Inventor Networks," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, Elsevier.
    9. Irwin Feller, 2013. "Peer review and expert panels as techniques for evaluating the quality of academic research," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Theory and Practice of Program Evaluation, chapter 5, pages 115-142 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    open science; patronage; common agency contracting; scientific revolution;

    JEL classification:

    • B15 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary

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