Is There a Market for Ideas?

35 Pages Posted: 29 Jan 2009 Last revised: 7 Dec 2009

Joshua S. Gans

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; NBER

Scott Stern

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Date Written: December 3, 2009

Abstract

This paper draws on recent work in market design to evaluate the conditions under which a market for ideas or technology (MfTs) will emerge and operate efficiently. As highlighted by Roth (2007), effective market design must ensure three basic principles: market thickness, lack of congestion, and market safety. Roth also highlight the importance of dealing with “repugnance.” Our analysis identifies the factors that are, in most circumstances, likely to inhibit the allocative efficiency of MfT. We show that key institutional developments such as the development of formalized IP exchanges suggest that effective market design may be possible for some innovation markets. Finally, our analysis suggests that markets for ideas are beset by the “repugnance” problem: from the perspective of market design, Open Science is an institution that places normative value on “free” disclosure and so undermines the ability of ideas producers to earn market-based returns for producing even very valuable “pure” knowledge.

Keywords: ideas market, intellectual property, market design, repugnance, appropriation

JEL Classification: O31

Suggested Citation

Gans, Joshua S. and Stern, Scott, Is There a Market for Ideas? (December 3, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1334882 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1334882

Joshua S. Gans (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.joshuagans.com

NBER ( email )

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Scott Stern

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-3053 (Phone)
617-253-2660 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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