Assessing the Impact of Organizational Practices on the Productivity of University Technology Transfer Offices: an Exploratory Study

57 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2000 Last revised: 1 May 2021

See all articles by Donald S. Siegel

Donald S. Siegel

Arizona State University

David Waldman

Arizona State University West

Albert Link

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 1999

Abstract

We present quantitative and qualitative evidence (field research) on university technology transfer offices (TTOs). These offices negotiate licensing agreements with firms to commercialize university-based technologies. A stochastic frontier production function framework is used to assess the relative productivity of 113 university TTOs. Our field research provided a useful reality check on the specification of the econometric model. The empirical findings imply that licensing activity is characterized by constant returns to scale. Environmental and institutional factors appear to explain some of the variation in TTO efficiency. Relative productivity may also depend on organizational practices in university management of intellectual property, which potentially attenuate palpable differences in the motives, incentives, and organizational cultures of the parties to licensing agreements. Unfortunately, there are no existing data on such practices, so we rely on inductive, qualitative methods to identify them. We present detailed information on our use of these methods. This information may be useful to economists who are contemplating fieldwork. Based on 55 interviews of managers/entrepreneurs and administrators at five research universities, we conclude that the most critical organizational factors are likely to be reward systems for faculty, TTO staffing and compensation practices, and actions taken by administrators to extirpate informational and cultural barriers between universities and firms.

Suggested Citation

Siegel, Donald S. and Waldman, David A. and Link, Albert N., Assessing the Impact of Organizational Practices on the Productivity of University Technology Transfer Offices: an Exploratory Study (July 1999). NBER Working Paper No. w7256, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=202438

Donald S. Siegel (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

411 North Central
Phoenix, AZ 85004
United States
6024961101 (Phone)

David A. Waldman

Arizona State University West ( email )

P.O. Box 37100
Phoenix, AZ 85069
United States
602-543-6231 (Phone)

Albert N. Link

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro - Department of Economics ( email )

Greensboro, NC 27402-6165
United States
336-334-5146 (Phone)
336-334-4089 (Fax)

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