The determinants of faculty patenting behavior

Science commercialization isn’t new to  research universities. Despite the ivory tower characterization, research universities in the  have long played a critical role in the transfer and application of new knowledge and technologies to/in the marketplace, starting with agriculture (Mowery & Rosenberg 1989). What’s new is the adoption by  research universities of formal organizational strategies for science commercialization. The en masse establishment in the 1980s of technology transfer offices on (or near) American campes (Geroski 2000) notwithstanding, more recently  research universities are involving indtry sponsors and advisers in the development of new curricula and in the establishment of new academic programs and research centers (Jarvis 2013). Perhaps the best-advertised example to date is Arizona State University (see Crow & Dabars 2015).

 

But as far as we can tell organizational strategies for science commercialization haven’t been accompanied by human resources strategies for science commercialization. Despite  research universities’ willingness to involve firms in facets of academic biness that historically have had little to no direct indtry involvement (Beckman et al. 1997, Jarvis 2013), academic faculty are still predominantly incented to perform open science over proprietary science. Though indtry contracts, patents, and invention disclosures count for something in performance reviews of academic faculty[i] (Azoulay et al. 2006), publishing in the open literature and the grants that enable them to do so have been (O’Meara 2005) and remain (Boardman 2016) the type of academic production that  research universities value first and foremost.

 

[i] By “academic faculty,” we mean tenure-track faculty. By “non-academic faculty,” we mean the numerous faculty classifications that are not tenure-track. By “research faculty,” we mean faculty whose salaries are dependent on soft money and who are generally not required to teach, which makes research faculty a subset of non-academic faculty. Research faculty are also sometimes instead labeled “clinical faculty.”