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Do firms profit from involving academics when developing technology?

Hanne Peeters (), Julie Callaert and Bart Looy
Additional contact information
Hanne Peeters: KU Leuven
Julie Callaert: KU Leuven
Bart Looy: KU Leuven

The Journal of Technology Transfer, 2020, vol. 45, issue 2, No 7, 494-521

Abstract: Abstract In this study, we analyze the contribution of academics to corporate technology development. Firm patents that involve (Flemish) academic inventors are contrasted with patents developed in-house. Two distinctive patterns emerge. First, firms involve academics relatively more often when exploring new technological fields (novel to the firm). At the same time, the majority of inventions in which academics become involved still reside in domains familiar to the firm (exploitation). Second, the impact of academic involvement differs significantly depending on whether contributions are situated in familiar or novel domains. When working in domains in which the firm has previous experience, academic involvement leads on average to fewer subsequent inventions (by the firm), whereas the reverse pattern occurs when firms engage academics in exploring new domains. These seemingly opposing patterns can be reconciled by taking into account familiarity with the underlying domain: academic involvement results in the creation of new options when exploring new domains while the benefits of engaging academics in exploitation reside mainly in eliminating (real) options.

Keywords: Corporate R&D; Academic inventors; Technology trajectories (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O31 O32 O34 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s10961-018-9709-x

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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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