Working Paper BETA #2010-06

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Title : The determinants of scientific research agenda: Why do academic inventors choose to perform patentable versus non-patentable research?

Author(s) : Hussler Caroline, Pénin Julien

Abstract : This paper explores the determinants of scientific research agenda. By using an original dataset that includes extensive information about 269 French academic inventors, we analyze why scientists choose to perform patentable versus non-patentable research. Usually economic studies tackle this problem by using the number of invented patents as a proxy of researchers’ willingness to perform patentable research. The originality of the paper is that, in addition to the number of invented patents, we rely on a survey-base dependant variable that indicates whether or not scientists acknowledge orienting deliberately their research towards patentable areas. Our results indicate that past experience with respect to patenting activity matters: academic inventors who have already experienced a successful technology transfer are more inclined to orient their research towards patentable domains. Similarly, the institutional environment plays an explanatory role, whereas conversely, scientific discipline, age and individual research performance do not seem to affect the decision to orient research towards patentable areas. Yet, age and scientific performance positively influence the number of patents scholars effectively invent.

Key-words : University, patent, scientific agenda, technology transfer, academic inventors.

JEL Classification : O3