NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Patent Licensing and the Research University

Richard A. Jensen, Marie C. Thursby

NBER Working Paper No. 10758
Issued in September 2004
NBER Program(s):   ITI

We construct a dynamic model of university research that allows us to examine recent concerns that financial incentives associated with university patent licensing are detrimental to the traditional mission of US research universities. We assume a principal-agent framework in which the university administration is the principal and a faculty researcher is the agent. Whether or not the researcher remains in the university, and if so her choice of the amount of time to spend on basic and applied research, is complicated by the fact that she earns license income and prestige both inside and outside the university. Thus in contrast to usual principal agent models the participation constraint is endogenous. This, plus the fact that current research affects future knowledge stocks, allows us to show that it is far from obvious that licensing will damage basic research and education.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10758

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