Evolution of Academic Cooperation. Are entrepreneurial activities changing the normative structure of science?
Best Junior Paper Award in 2012 Schumpeter Society Conference
Academic research has become increasingly entrepreneurial over the last decades as science and technology policies are reformed to strengthen the link between academia and industry. In this trend of academic entrepreneurship, universities and academics worldwide have increasingly engaged in entrepreneurial activities (Etzkowitz, 1998), but there is growing concern about the effects of this new regime on the traditional norms and practices of science (e.g., Nelson, 2004). With this regard, prior literature has been primarily concerned about anti-cooperative behaviors of entrepreneurially active scientists, suggesting that academics who engage in commercial activities, collaborate with industry, and receive funds from industry are likely to withhold their research material and avoid sharing research information (e.g., Walsh et al. 2007). However, few studies have examined more fundamental effects on the majority of academics who themselves are not engaged in entrepreneurial activities. This study aims to examine how the entrepreneurial regime has transformed the norms of academics, especially focusing on the resource sharing among academics. To this end, this study draws on empirical analyses based on a survey of life and material scientists in Japanese universities and mathematical analysis based on evolutionary game theory. Results indicate that high levels of academic entrepreneurship can lead to less reliance on the gift-giving form of sharing (i.e., generalized exchange) traditionally recommended in academia, and with a greater emphasis on direct benefits for givers (i.e., direct exchange), as well as a lower overall frequency of sharing. We observe these shifts in sharing behavior even among academics who are not entrepreneurially active; this suggests a general shift in scientific norms contingent on institutional contexts. These findings reflect contradictions inherent in current science policies that simultaneously encourage open science as well as commercial application of research results, and they suggest that the increasing emphasis on entrepreneurial activities may fundamentally change the normative structure of science.
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Sotaro Shibayama is Assistant Professor at Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, the University of Tokyo. His first degree is an M.S. from the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, the University of Tokyo with his work in molecular biology. Afterwards, he was engaged in consulting business for the pharmaceutical industry. Then, he returned to academia and earned Master of Economics and Ph.D. in the field of R&D management. His research interest includes science & technology policy and management of R&D organizations.