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The origin of public research organisation patents: an economic approach

AuthorsAzagra Caro, Joaquín ; Plaza Gómez, Luis Manuel ; Romero de Pablos, Ana
Issue DateDec-2007
PublisherBeech Tree Publishing
Oxford University Press
CitationResearch Evaluation 16(4): 271-282 (2007)
AbstractWhile some studies on patenting by public research organisations (PROs) and universities altogether tend to be positive and descriptive, normative concerns have risen mainly on the side of university patenting. The specific dynamics of PROs, e.g. on the growth of their personnel and the creation of research units, allow them to make strategic considerations which are less present in universities but which may have an impact on patenting. However, PROs are often subject to similar requirements and legal frameworks to increase patenting, so the question of which factors have a determining influence becomes relevant. Without aiming to build a typology, we focus on large PROs that face singular decisions on the priority of scientific areas, decentralisation to regions and joint management of their research units and we take the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the largest PRO in Spain, as a case study. We also apply the production function approach typical in the case of universities to the context of PROs. The data consists of 2 794 patents applied for by the CSIC which we break down among an average of 95 CSIC research units per year over 19 years (1987-2005), thus creating a database of 1 812 observations. We learn that (i) the application of problems and methodologies from universities to PROs is fruitful to formulate/refine hypotheses on patent origination; (ii) according to the example of CSIC, returns to scale in the production of patents may be higher for PROs than for universities; (iii) there may be contradictory logics when PROs try to maximise their objective of producing patents.
Description11 pages, 6 tables
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.3152/095820207X254457
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