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
CRISTIANO ANTONELLI* 1 In the Matter of the Knowledge Commons Important shifts in the economics of knowledge have occurred in recent years. Consensus on the analysis of the public good characters of knowledge has been ﬁrst contrasted to, and eventually substituted by, the new argument about the quasi-private nature of technological knowledge. The appreciation of demand-side externalities and external knowledge at large has called for renewed interest in the mechanisms of governance upon which the production and the distribution of knowledge builds. The understanding of multiple equilibria and micro–macro feedbacks refocuses attention on the crucial role of economic policy which had important consequences for the institutional design of the organization of the production and distribution of knowledge. The process by which this shift in the economics of knowledge has occurred can be summarized in three stages. The ﬁrst recalls the ingredients of the great swing from the build-up of the public knowledge commons to the wave of privatizations and liberalization. Identiﬁcation of the central role of external knowledge in the production of new knowledge marks the second step, where the discovery of the knowledge trade-oﬀ stresses the role of the governance in all interactions and exchanges for knowledge. Understanding of the instability of market interactions in the production and distribution of technological knowledge should pave the way to the third step, where a new scope for an economic policy able to manage dynamic coordination issues is identiﬁed. 2 The Great Swing The seminal contributions of Kenneth Arrow...
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