Knowledge Management and Intellectual Property
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Knowledge Management and Intellectual Property

Concepts, Actors and Practices from the Past to the Present

Edited by Stathis Arapostathis and Graham Dutfield

The book links the practices and regimes of the past with those of contemporary and emerging forms, covering the mid-19th century to the present. The contributors are noted scholars from various disciplines including history of science and technology, intellectual property law, and innovation studies. The chapters offer original perspectives on how proprietary regimes in knowledge production processes have developed as a socio-political phenomenon of modernity, as well as providing an analysis of the way individuals, institutions and techno-sciences interact within this culture.
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Chapter 9: Commerce and academe: American universities as hosts of entrepreneurial science, 1880–1920

Susan W. Morris


Today when academic scientists or engineers make a discovery or invention that has commercial potential, their university often shares in any revenues that eventually result. Yet the model of universities having a proprietary interest in academic discoveries – of universities acting as entrepreneurs – has developed relatively recently, mainly over the past 30 years. In the original model of academic entrepreneurship, born in the nineteenth century, universities themselves served as hosts of entrepreneurial faculty, but played no institutional role in commercializing the inventions developed on their campuses. We can still learn from that model, especially given the questions that have recently been raised about academia’s involvement in commerce (Greenberg, 2007; Litan et al., 2007; Mirowski, 2011). This chapter therefore examines the original model of academic entrepreneurship by looking at the inventive activity of three American scientists to see how their pursuit of commercial science fitted in with their university environments. The three scientists are Henry A. Rowland at Johns Hopkins, Edwin F. Northrup at Princeton, and Charles F. Burgess at the University of Wisconsin. Henry Rowland is well known as one of the nineteenth century’s most distinguished physicists, acknowledged not only for his own achievements in physics and astronomy, but also for the achievements he made possible for other scientists through his invention of diffraction gratings of an unprecedented quality. But this chapter focuses on a less well-known aspect of his career: his forays into the commercial possibilities of science, and, especially, his development in the 1890s of a system for multiplex telegraphy.

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