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Quality of research as source and signal: revisiting the valorization process beyond substitution vs complementarity

Andrea Bonaccorsi (), Brigida Blasi, Carmela Anna Nappi and Sandra Romagnosi
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Andrea Bonaccorsi: University of Pisa
Brigida Blasi: Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes
Carmela Anna Nappi: Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes
Sandra Romagnosi: Italian National Agency for the Evaluation of Universities and Research Institutes

The Journal of Technology Transfer, 2022, vol. 47, issue 2, No 3, 407-434

Abstract: Abstract In recent years, the growing interest of universities in valorization of research activities (tipically through technology transfer—patenting and licensing—and academic entrepreneurship) has generated a debate on its impact on scientific knowledge production. There have been controversies on the potentially negative effect of university research valorization on public research, in terms of quality, long term vs short term orientation, and accessibility. The debate has been traditionally framed in terms of substitution vs complementarity between public research and valorization. In this paper we argue that the key to understand the relation between public research and valorization lies in the role of research funding, particularly: (a) competitive public research funding; (b) third party commercial funding. If the funding system (both public and private) takes the value of academic research as signal of quality, then high quality researchers are able to attract extra-funds beyond ordinary endowment. In turn, these additional funds can be used as a source to organize an effective and long-term division of labor in laboratories in order to support inventions and licensing (patents) and entrepreneurial activities (spin-off companies). In this case academic quality and commercialization are strong complement and positive feedback loops are generated. This interpretation on the role of funding is strongly supported by original data from the Italian Evaluation of Research Quality VQR 2011–2014 dataset. The paper is based on a unique and novel dataset, that integrates data on valorization of research activities at individual and institutional level on all the Italian universities and microdata on research quality on 32,616 researchers in STEM disciplines.

Keywords: Third mission; Research quality; Academic patenting; Academic entrepreneurship; Third party funding (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I23 O31 O32 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s10961-021-09860-7

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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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