NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Contracting Over the Disclosure of Scientific Knowledge: Intellectual Property and Academic Publication

Joshua S. Gans, Fiona E. Murray, Scott Stern

NBER Working Paper No. 19560
Issued in October 2013
NBER Program(s):   PR

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 or ability to profitably commercialize their innovations. 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 can be complementary instruments facilitating the disclosure of knowledge-providing predictions as to when stronger IP protection regimes might drive openness by firms.

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This paper was revised on September 18, 2014

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19560

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