Academic Entrepreneurship: Bayh-Dole versus the “Professor’s Privilege”

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Thomas Astebro of HEC Paris, Serguey Braguinsky of the University of Maryland, Pont Braunerhjelm of KTH Royal Institute of Technology, and Anders Brostrom of  KTH Royal Institute of Technology. They recently published an article in the ILR Review entitled “Academic Entrepreneurship: Bayh-Dole versus the “Professor’s Privilege”, which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Astebro recounts the motivations for this research.]

ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpointThrough the Bayh-Dole Act (BDA) of 1980, the US pioneered a systemic change in which Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), traditionally held by the granting agency, was transferred to universities if the research had been conducted using federal funds. This change in the IPR regime aimed to simplify relationships with granting agencies and to increase American competitiveness through increased licensing of university-based research. In Europe, the Professors’ Privilege (PP) prevailed. Under the PP, the university has no ownership rights to IP created by a university employee. However, about a decade and a half ago and following the apparent success in the US, many countries were about to abolish the Professor’s Privilege in favor of adopting BDA-type IPR regimes.

We were motivated in writing this paper by the recent evaluations of introductions of Bayh-Dole type IPR regimes in several European countries, including Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. (Other countries have also made such changes.) The evaluations are consistent: these legislative changes have lead to drastic reductions in both the number of patents claimed by university professors, the number of companies started by university professors, and, when measured, a reduction also in the quality of the patents submitted. One of the authors had also recently been appointed advisor to a Swedish Parliamentary investigation on the possibility of abolishing the Professor’s Privilege in Sweden, which would be the third such investigation in a relatively short period of time.

The paper shows that as long as they are stable and supported by an appropriate institutional framework, both types of legislations — BDA and PP — can generate fruitful outcomes in terms of invention commercializations by their creators. However, the many studies investigating the abolition of the Professor’s Privilege in favour of Bayh-Dole type IP regimes in Europe leads one to conclude that wholesale changes to the legislation have had very significant negative consequences, at least when it comes to academic entrepreneurship. Countries have struggled to change the institutional framework to reflect the new legislation, in some cases taking decades to do. The conclusion is thus: don’t rock the boat. Make small changes if necessary. In Sweden, the final report to the parliament suggested that just like in Canada, each university should have the right to decide themselves how to regulate IP rights.

This paper has been challenged by some who do not believe the figures we present on the relative rate of start-ups by academics in Sweden versus the US, which show a slight edge for Sweden. (The US on the other hand outperform Sweden when it comes to start-up rates by non-academics.) This reaction might partly be due to that the US is more known than Sweden, or by some questioning the data. Granted, the two datasets we use are generated in different ways, but on the other hand represent rather substantial efforts to collect either representative data (by the National Science Foundation) or register-based data on all start-ups (Statistics Sweden). Further evaluations will surely appear on this important topic.

 

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Studying Creative Workers

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Holly Patrick of Edinburgh Napier University. She recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Nested tensions and smoothing tactics: An ethnographic examination of ambidexterity in a theatre,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Patrick briefly describes her motivations for this research and her findings:]

What motivated you to pursue this research?

The Creative Industries, and the theatre industry in particular, is a thrilling and extremely rewarding arena for research. The content of the work is inherently fascinating to me, and most employees (from the artists on stage to the box office staff) are driven by a love of the art form, and by a commitment to one another. Aside from the pleasure of researching such a vibrant community, there are a couple of reasons why research in this area is particularly worthy. First, the production of art is in many ways the production of society, as it generates new ideas and new understandings of culture, identity and society which diffuse through high and popular creative forms to influence all areas of life. Second, creative workers and organisations are becoming increasingly important to the economy of developed countries as the manufacturing industry shrinks and certain areas of service work become automated.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

My research is ethnographic – based on observation, participant observation and interviews. It is a lot to ask that anyone allows another person to follow them around and take notes on a regular basis for an extended period of time. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I was a PhD student adopting an inductive methodology – so I didn’t walk into the theatre with a research question. Participants often wanted to know ‘what are you trying to find out?’ and ‘I’m not quite sure yet’ never felt like a very satisfactory answer! Despite being open and honest about this, ambiguity breeds insecurity, and sometimes I had to adjust my techniques and my plans to deal with the discomfort participants felt at my presence in their workspace (which in some cases were usually private, such as rehearsals). The findings I present in this paper about the linguistic tactics used to deal with paradox are some of the most interesting in the project, and resulted from me being able to develop a close and sustained relationship with a production team – but it was not without its challenges. I remember an actor who was having a difficult rehearsal legitimately (if a little uncomfortably) asking ‘what the f*** was I writing about in my notebook anyway’. Accounts of methodology are often sanitised in papers, but doing research is all about understanding and responding to participants concerns, which helps build our knowledge of the field and our reflexivity about the impacts of our methods on others.

What advice would you give to new scholar and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

Paradox is a rapidly evolving area so going to conferences in key to keeping up with the field. IF you are considering research the Creative Industries, it is important to bear in mind that much of the foundational literature was written in an era of investment and political hype around the value of creativity to the economy. We do not live in the same world today, and contemporary research in the UK needs to focus on the value of the creative economy in a post-crash, austerity-driven context.

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To Patent or Not to Patent?

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Francesco Chirico of Jo¨nko¨ping International Business School and EGADE Business Schoo, Giuseppe Criaco of  Rotterdam School of Management, Massimo Bau`of Jo¨nko¨ping International Business School, Lucia Naldi of Jo¨nko¨ping International Business School, Luis R. Gomez-Mejia of W.P. Carey School of Business, and Josip Kotlar of Politecnico di Milano. They recently published an article in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice entitled “To patent or not to patent: That is the question. Intellectual property protection in family firms,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the motivation and impact of their research.]

Patents help firms appropriate greater returns from innovation, leading to superior financial returns. However, patenting also entails significant costs, many of which are non-financial in nature. Family firms are a case in point: in these firms, the financial benefits of patenting may come at the expense of socioemotional losses for the family, such as diverting resources from traditional lines of business, disclosing tacit knowledge, increasing reputational risks, or creating dependence on external sources of finance and specialized human capital. Understanding these trade-offs and disentangling family firms’ decision to patent is the main purpose of this study.

We rely on a novel theoretical perspective – the mixed gamble logic – to conceptualize family firms’ patenting decisions as a trade-off between: (1) benefits in terms of gains in prospective financial wealth and (2) costs in terms of losses in the family’s current SEW. This theory suggests that family firms will not necessarily privilege financial or socioemotional wealth considerations; rather, it points to critical factors that are likely to shape the way family firms frame the value of benefits and costs of patenting.

We test these ideas using data about the patenting behavior of 4,198 small- and medium-sized family firms. First, we find that family firms’ propensity to patent changes depending on the level of family ownership: when family ownership raises beyond a threshold level, then current socioemotional wealth is safe and family firms become more likely to pursue the prospective financial gains attainable through patenting. Second, we also show that family firms’ patenting decisions change depending on the environment, as the trade-offs between financial and socioemotional wealth becomes more stringent when the availability of critical external resources is low.

These results elucidate the role of non-financial considerations in family firms’ strategies for capturing value from innovations and reconcile previous conflicting findings. The study also holds several practical implications for family firm owners and managers: it suggests that, in fact, their propensity to patent might be biased by their over-emphasis on socioemotional considerations. But our study also suggests that family firms can successfully reconcile the inherent trade-off between financial and socioemotional wealth by securing a high level of family control through majority family ownership. Thus, while the prior research has encouraged family firms to open up their innovation processes to facilitate value creation, our study rather encourages family owners to acquire or preserve a stronger controlling position in their respective firms to deploy more effective strategies for capturing value from innovations. This recommendation is likely to apply particularly in industries characterized by low environmental munificence.

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How Does Innovation Emerge in a Service Ecosystem?

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Jennifer D. Chandler of California State University, Fullerton, Ilias Danatzis of Freie Universita¨t Berlin, Carolin Wernicke of CRM Solutions GmbH, Melissa Archpru Akaka of the University of Denver, and David Reynolds of the University of Warwick. They recently published an article in Journal of Service Research entitled “How Does Innovation Emerge in a Service Ecosystem?,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, They reflect on the motivation and impact of this research:]

Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?

We wanted to study how a divisive or hostile idea could possibly evolve into an innovation. The timing was good to investigate online privacy and personal data issues because the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal had just occurred. We were intrigued by the struggles of the developers and engineers as they went about their everyday tasks; we saw how they negotiated with one another regarding their personal opinions regarding privatization of the internet. We knew that managers in many other companies and industries struggled with these same issues in the massive move toward online cloud computing and service innovation.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

This research is innovative because the topics of online privacy and data monetization are controversial, intense, and timely. Also, the theoretical idea that innovation is a nonlinear systemic process that can sometimes breakdown is thought-provoking. We are trying to emphasize that, no matter the outcome, innovation is about stimulating discussion and creating feedback loops so that the next time a good idea comes around, it can prosper. To explain this, we bring in the concepts of plasticity and institutional reconciliation to explain why ideas do not always emerge as innovations. Furthermore, we discuss that some ideas may not flourish simply because of timing and/or the contexts in which they are originated. Our findings suggest that innovators shouldn’t spend all their time on product development or in labs; rather, innovators should be out there cultivating their service ecosystems and nurturing shared norms and meanings.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

We would like to share that this manuscript is based on 4 years of data collection and that the authors were strewn across 3 different countries. Collaboratively, we went back and forth between the data analysis and theoretical development many, many times before we were satisfied. The attention to detail required to generate the theoretical framework stemmed from tenacity and persistence. At times, some of us on the team wanted to give up while others wanted to continue pushing forward to an “A” level journal. It was truly a team effort.

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Successful Practices for Voluntary Innovation Teams Crossing Scientific and Professional Fields

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[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Zack Kertcher of the University of Illinois, and Dr. Erica Coslor of the University of Melbourne. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Boundary Objects and the Technical Culture Divide: Successful Practices for Voluntary Innovation Teams Crossing Scientific and Professional Fields,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they recount the motivations and innovations of this research.

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointWhat motivated you to pursue this research

Zack:

What drew me to this work is my intrigue with a “big” question and an opportunity.

The “big” question

Whether it is “The Web”, “Mobile”, “Cloud Computing,” or most recently “AI,” technology constructs appear to drive much of what we do, and how we think about our work. They also appear to start by being highly interpretable and open to changes, followed by a period in which they are more stable. The latter is when mass adoption occurs. Much less is known about the former stage. How can people from different organizations and fields of practice adopt a new technology that still has an elusive meaning, and yet use it to make a significant impact in their area of work? As this paper shows, while such efforts exhibit distinct challenges, they also show common solutions.

The opportunity

During my graduate program at the University of Chicago, I had the rare opportunity to interact with the innovators and early adopters of exactly this type of technology construct, “Grid Computing.” By many accounts, it paved the way to today’s “Cloud Computing.” The article reports findings from a part of this project that analysed the experience of three teams in three fields of science that tried to adopt “The Grid” to drive change in their fields.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

Zack:

The most challenging aspect of this research was its reach. While still being negotiated at the time when I started my research, there were already many adopters of Grid Computing. These adopters spanned hundreds of organizations, running across all continents, and many fields of scientific and commercial practice. To study an evolving construct, it is best to study it up-close from the perspective of participants. However, performing a qualitative study on such a distributed scale was not trivial. I spent several years examining this community. To make things worse, these individuals came from different fields of practice, which meant understanding all perspectives was particularly difficult.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

Both:

This research contributes to the field in two ways:

  1. Innovation management. We examine the development and adoption of “big” technologies from the perspective of the groups working in the trenches to advance these innovations. When successful, such technologies end up impacting our everyday lives. But to be successful, innovators and early adopters need to overcome a set of challenges in how to approach and integrate the new technology into their working practices.
  2. Interdisciplinary collaborations. These collaborations are based on a paradox. On the one hand, interdisciplinary projects are the most innovative, because they involve people with multiple—often radically different—perspectives. But working with such distinct approaches and objectives can be disabling. This paradox is more pronounced when the projects are voluntary and involve an “object” (technology) that is still very much open to interpretation, as was the case here.

 

 

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Team Photo attributed to Free-Photos  (CC)

The Role of Creative Mediums in Enhancing Management Research Representation

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Lakshmi Balachandran Nair of Utrecht University, Pauline Fatien Diochon of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Reka Anna Lassu of the University of Central Florida, and Suzanne G. Tilleman of the University of Montana, Missoula. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management Inquiry entitled “Let’s Perform and Paint! The Role of Creative Mediums in Enhancing Management Research Representation,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below,  They reflect on their research:]

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointA video of an indigenous tribe member with colorful body paint and a heavy beaded necklace filming his peers with a camera in the middle of the Amazon rainforest…

An analogy of a cocktail party used to represent the complex Higgs boson phenomenon in the simplest way possible…

What do these have in common?

They are creative mediums used by scholars to display research findings in an evocative, yet informative way. Expanding on examples such as these, our article advocates for the use of creative mediums to showcase the product of an inquiry, either alone or as a supplement to traditional reporting. We provide a rationale for how these mediums trigger interest, foster a multisensory experience, convey complex meaning, and spark contemporary, inclusive dialogues.

How did we have this idea?

“Here are markers and a poster. Show us a new research idea you think will generate curiosity, conversation, and collaboration and is emblematic of The Journal of Management Inquiry’s spirit”

This was the prompt we were given by Dr. Hannah and Dr. Stackman at the concluding workshop session of the 2016 Western Academy of Management Conference after they had introduced an example of recent research about how the presence of animals influences people at work. The few of us at our table began brainstorming.

“Did you know that some PhD students dance their dissertation?” said Dr. Balachandran Nair.

This question started a discussion about how management researchers are familiar with the use of creative mediums to illustrate intricate and dynamic organizational environments. However, the majority of the researchers tend to restrict the use of creative mediums to facilitating the process of inquiry. What if these creative mediums could showcase the findings?

We quickly sketched our idea on a poster (see left).
All the participants showed each other their posters and voted on their favorites.

JMI Initial PosterThe initial poster presenting our ideas

The enthusiasm from the workshop motivated us to examine the creative practices in other fields and to see whether and how we can adapt ideas for reporting research findings to the management field. Voilà, the project was born. The article inspired by the workshop is innovative in its idea and format. While using creative mediums for research representation certainly contrasts with dominant text-based vehicles, we believe in the potential of creative mediums to increase engagement, retention, and impact – not only with fellow researchers but also with practitioners and the general public. We see creative mediums as a way to build bridges with several communities around researchers. None of us are professional artists, but we had to practice what we preach, so we challenged ourselves to include a poem, cartoon, and a collage along with our article.

Now, it is your turn to get creative!

Lakshmi Balachandran Nair, Pauline Fatien Diochon, Reka Anna Lassu, Suzanne Tilleman

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New Podcast! Protecting Student Intellectual Property in the Entrepreneurial Classroom

Podcast MicrophoneIn the latest podcast from Journal of Management Education, Jane Murray speaks with Jerome Katz and Sarah Wright about their article, “Protecting Student Intellectual Property in the Entrepreneurial Classroom.” The podcast delves into the inspiration for Sarah to interview Jerome about student entrepreneurship, as well as what future research and projects this paper has sparked for Sarah and Jerome.

The abstract for the paper:

While universities are intensely protective of revenue streams related to intellectual property interests for the institution and professors, the financial and legal interests of students in the entrepreneurial process have largely been overlooked. This lack of attention, both in universities and in the literature, is intriguing given the mushrooming growth in entrepreneurial education courses in almost every U.S.
university. This article builds and reflects on an original article by Katz, Harshman, and Lund Dean where the JMEauthors advocate for establishing classroom norms for promoting and protecting student intellectual property. We present research, insights, and reflections from Professor Katz regarding the controversial ethical and legal issues related to student intellectual property in university settings and provide suggested resources for faculty traversing these issues.

Interested in hearing the interview? You can listen to the full podcast by clicking here. You can also read the article, “Protecting Student Intellectual Property in the Entrepreneurial Classroom” from Journal of Management Education free for the next two weeks by clicking here.

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