Rethinking the Rationales for Funding and Governance
New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series
Edited by Aldo Geuna, Ammon J. Salter and W. Edward Steinmueller
Chapter 4: Links and Impacts: The Influence of Public Research on Industrial R & D
4. Links and impacts: the inﬂuence of public research on industrial R&D* Wesley M. Cohen, Richard R. Nelson and John P. Walsh** 1 INTRODUCTION This chapter reports ﬁndings from the Carnegie Mellon Survey on Industrial R&D on the contributions of university and government research labs – what we will call public research – to industrial innovation. By advancing our understanding of the contribution of public research to industrial R&D, we hope to deepen our understanding of the determinants of technological change broadly, and speak to assumptions that have guided policy discussions over the past two decades concerning the economic impact of public research. Understanding the impact of public research on industrial R&D is central to understanding the innovation process itself. The so-called ‘linear model’ of innovation, reﬂected most notably in Vannevar Bush’s (1945) Science: The Endless Frontier, conceived of industrial innovation as proceeding from basic to applied research and then to development and commercialization. In this traditional view, public research – particularly university research – proceeds upstream and independently of technological development, which, however, draws from the pool of research results. A richer characterization of the innovation process has been developed over the past two decades by scholars such as Gibbons and Johnston (1975), Kline and Rosenberg (1986), Nelson (1990) and von Hippel (1988), among others. This conception is of a more interactive relationship where public research sometimes leads the development of new technologies, and sometimes focuses on problems posed by prior developments or buyer feedback. In this...
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