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Grace, gold, or glory? Exploring incentives for invention disclosure in the university context

Thomas Walter (), Christoph Ihl (), René Mauer () and Malte Brettel ()
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Thomas Walter: RWTH Aachen University
Christoph Ihl: RWTH Aachen University
René Mauer: RWTH Aachen University
Malte Brettel: RWTH Aachen University

The Journal of Technology Transfer, 2018, vol. 43, issue 6, 1725-1759

Abstract: Abstract What motivates university scientists to identify practical applications for their research results and consider having them patent-protected? A wealth of research points towards a complex blend of factors, including organizational antecedents, social norms and personal-level expectations. Few studies, however, have attempted to investigate the effect of concrete incentives from the perspective of individual scientists’ decision-making. In this paper, we operationalize the propensity to patent and commercialize research results as the intention to submit an invention disclosure filing. We use scenario-based conjoint analysis to capture university scientists’ preference structures for different incentive policies. Results indicate that direct and indirect financial incentives are dominant drivers. In addition, a grace period that would allow for patenting and publishing in parallel and the inclusion of patents in academic performance assessments are worth considering, whereas the specific setup of the technology transfer organization and public recognition of achievements in form of an award appear to have limited effect. However, preferences for incentives and hence their effectiveness vary significantly across academic disciplines and ranks as well as with scientists’ working experience, patenting experience and research orientation. On this basis, we can derive more qualified recommendations for incentive system design.

Keywords: University technology transfer; Invention disclosure; Academic patenting; Incentive system; Conjoint analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: M12 M50 M52 O31 O34 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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The Journal of Technology Transfer is currently edited by Albert N. Link, Donald S. Siegel, Barry Bozeman and Simon Mosey

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