Privatizing the Intellectual Commons: Universities and the Commercialization of Biotechnology

Posted: 2 Jul 1998

See all articles by Julia Porter Liebeskind

Julia Porter Liebeskind

University of Southern California - Management and Organization Department

Nicholas S. Argyres

Boston University - School of Management

Date Written: January 1996

Abstract

This paper analyzes universities' attempts, since the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, to adapt their organizational arrangements to accommodate the commercialization of biotechnology research conducted by their faculty. We argue that universities' adaptive efforts have been severely hampered because internal and external parties have sought to enforce universities' adherence to their outstanding social commitment to create and sustain an "intellectual commons" for the benefit of society at large. The internal organizational arrangements universities efficiently maintain to administer the intellectual commons have also served to impede adaptive efforts. We conclude that social-contractual commitments and organizational standards may place important limits on the scope of organizations generally, as well as significantly affecting the shape and outcome of negotiations over property rights.

JEL Classification: K23, L69

Suggested Citation

Porter Liebeskind, Julia and Argyres, Nicholas S., Privatizing the Intellectual Commons: Universities and the Commercialization of Biotechnology (January 1996). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=10041

Julia Porter Liebeskind

University of Southern California - Management and Organization Department ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
(213) 740-0749 (Phone)
(213) 749-0541 (Fax)

Nicholas S. Argyres (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Management ( email )

595 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
United States
(617) 353-4152 (Phone)
(617) 353-5003 (Fax)

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