Engaging the Inventor: Exploring Licensing Strategies for University Inventions and the Role of Latent Knowledge

Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 27, pp. 63-79, 2006

17 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2007  

Ajay Agrawal

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Abstract

A significant portion of knowledge generated by university inventors remains latent (uncodified but codifiable), even though this information is valuable to firms that have licensed their inventions and famously strong incentives exist to disseminate academic findings widely. However, the licensee may access and exploit this latent knowledge by engaging the inventor during the development phase. This paper examines the hypothesis that licensing strategies that directly engage the inventor increase the likelihood and degree of commercialization success. While this may seem somewhat apparent, firms in the sample under investigation vary substantially in the degree to which they engage the inventor: one third of the sample does not engage the inventor at all. On the other hand, the hypothesis might seem surprising given the norms of open science under which university labs are expected to operate. Regression analyses based on a unique dataset of 124 license agreements associated with inventions from MIT support the hypothesis and generate results that are robust to a variety of controls.

Keywords: technology transfer, commercialization, university

Suggested Citation

Agrawal, Ajay, Engaging the Inventor: Exploring Licensing Strategies for University Inventions and the Role of Latent Knowledge. Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 27, pp. 63-79, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=982661

Ajay Agrawal (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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