Of Mice and Academics: Examining the Effect of Openness on Innovation

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Of Mice and Academics: Examining the Effect of Openness on Innovation

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dc.contributor.author Stern, Scott
dc.contributor.author Kolev, Julian
dc.contributor.author Dewatripont, Mathias
dc.contributor.author Aghion, Philippe
dc.contributor.author Murray, Fiona
dc.date.accessioned 2010-11-15T15:50:50Z
dc.date.issued 2009
dc.identifier.citation Murray, Fiona, Philippe Aghion, Mathias Dewatripont, Julian Kolev, and Scott Stern. 2009. Of mice and academics: Examining the effect of openness on innovation. NBER Working Paper Series 14819. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 0898-2937 en_US
dc.identifier.uri http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4554220
dc.description.abstract Scientific freedom and openness are hallmarks of academia: relative to their counterparts in industry, academics maintain discretion over their research agenda and allow others to build on their discoveries. This paper examines the relationship between openness and freedom, building on recent models emphasizing that, from an economic perspective, freedom is the granting of control rights to researchers. Within this framework, openness of upstream research does not simply encourage higher levels of downstream exploitation. It also raises the incentives for additional upstream research by encouraging the establishment of entirely new research directions. In other words, within academia, restrictions on scientific openness (such as those created by formal intellectual property (IP)) may limit the diversity and experimentation of basic research itself. We test this hypothesis by examining a "natural experiment" in openness within the academic community: NIH agreements during the late 1990s that circumscribed IP restrictions for academics regarding certain genetically engineered mice. Using a sample of engineered mice that are linked to specific scientific papers (some affected by the NIH agreements and some not), we implement a differences-in-differences estimator to evaluate how the level and type of follow-on research using these mice changes after the NIH-induced increase in openness. We find a significant increase in the level of follow-on research. Moreover, this increase is driven by a substantial increase in the rate of exploration of more diverse research paths. Overall, our findings highlight a neglected cost of IP: reductions in the diversity of experimentation that follows from a single idea. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Economics en_US
dc.language.iso en_US en_US
dc.publisher National Bureau of Economic Research en_US
dc.relation.isversionof http://www.nber.org/papers/w14819 en_US
dash.license OAP
dc.title Of Mice and Academics: Examining the Effect of Openness on Innovation en_US
dc.type Research Paper or Report en_US
dc.description.version Author's Original en_US
dc.relation.journal NBER Working Paper Series en_US
dash.depositing.author Aghion, Philippe
dc.date.available 2010-11-15T15:50:50Z

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  • FAS Scholarly Articles [7262]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University

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