The Elgar Companion to the Economics of Property Rights
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The Elgar Companion to the Economics of Property Rights

Edited by Enrico Colombatto

Economics is a matter of choice and growth, of interaction and exchange among individuals. Because property rights define the rules of these interactions and the objects of exchange, it is vital to fully understand the institutions and implications of the various property-rights regimes. With over 20 original and specially commissioned chapters, this book takes the reader from the historical and moral foundations of the discipline to the frontiers of scholarly research in the field.
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Chapter 19: The Governance of Localized Technological Knowledge and the Evolution of Intellectual Property Rights

Cristiano Antonelli


Cristiano Antonelli* Introduction The economics of intellectual property rights has been characterized by an evolution that parallels and reflects the major shifts in the economics of technological knowledge that have occurred in recent years. This work provides an analysis of the effects of the changing foundations of the economics of knowledge upon the assessment of the design and the characteristics of intellectual property rights. To do this, the chapter relies on a systemic approach to understanding the mechanisms of the institutional set-up that are most conducive to foster the rate of introduction of technological knowledge and hence technological change. The systemic analysis of the interdependent and complementary conditions of access and exclusion to the flows of technological interactions, transactions, coordination and communication that are specifically designed to organize the generation and the distribution of technological knowledge provides the appropriate context into which the role of each mechanism and specifically intellectual property rights can be assessed (Jaffe 2000, Nelson and Sampat 2001). Major changes occurred in the economic understanding of knowledge in the second part of the twentieth century. Knowledge was first regarded as a typical public good that markets and profit-seeking agents could not produce in the appropriate quantities and with the appropriate characteristics. These theoretical ingredients paved the way to the build-up of the infrastructure for the public provision of knowledge. Consensus on the analysis of the public good character of knowledge was first contrasted and eventually replaced by the new argument about the quasi-private...

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