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

  • Paul David

    ()

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

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.

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Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 06-038.

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Date of creation: Dec 2007
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Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:06-038
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  1. David, Paul A. & Olsen, Trond E., 1992. "Technology adoption, learning spillovers, and the optimal duration of patent-based monopolies," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 517-543, December.
  2. 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.
  3. James Bessen & Eric Maskin, 2009. "Sequential innovation, patents, and imitation," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 40(4), pages 611-635.
  4. Harold M. Groves, Chairman, Universities-National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, 1962. "The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number univ62-1, October.
  5. Richard Nelson, 1962. "Introduction to "The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors"," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 1-16 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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