Contracting Over the Disclosure of Scientific Knowledge: Intellectual Property and Academic Publication
NBER Working Paper No. 19560
This paper provides a theoretical investigation of the tension over knowledge disclosure between firms and their scientific employees. While empirical research suggests that scientists exhibit a ‘taste for science,’ such open disclosures can limit a firm’s competitive advantage. To explore how this tension is resolved we focus on the strategic interaction between researchers and firms bargaining over whether (and how) knowledge will be disclosed. We evaluate four disclosure strategies: secrecy, patenting, open science (scientific publication) and patent-paper pairs providing insights into the determinants of the disclosure strategy of a firm. We find that patents and publications are complementary instruments facilitating the disclosure of knowledge and, counter-intuitively, that stronger IP protection regimes are likely to drive openness by firms.
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