Haas Trio Receives Academy of Management Award

A trio in the Haas community─a PhD student, a professor, and an alumnus─ co-authored an article that won a 2012 "Best Paper" distinction from the Academy of Management.

The article, titled "Materials Transfer Agreements (MTAs), Licenses, and the Flow of Scientific Knowledge: A Preliminary Assessment," is co-authored by PhD student Neil Thompson; Haas Professor Emeritus David Mowery; and Haas alumnus Arvids Ziedonis, PhD 00, a professor at the University of Oregon.

The authors will present their paper in Boston during a session on university-industry interfaces at the Academy of Management's annual meeting, the largest annual gathering of management scholars in the world, held each year in August.

Using data from the University of California (UC) system from 1997 to 2007, the researchers examined the effects of licenses on university-patented discoveries and of materials transfer agreements (MTAs) on the publication of follow-on research citing scientific papers that were also linked to a licensed patent. MTAs are agreements between researchers at universities, other research institutions, and private sector firms governing the exchange of research materials.

Despite concerns by some scholars and policy-makers that MTAs may have a “chilling effect” on progress in academic research, preliminary results in this study found little evidence that recent growth in MTAs and licenses covering the results of academic research are constraining scientific communication.

The authors did observe, however, that in two instances — MTAs between UC researchers and private companies and exclusive licenses covering patents in “research tools” patent classes — these instruments are associated with a decline in citations to scientific papers linked to the related MTAs and licenses. These findings suggest that in some specific contexts, MTAs and licenses may have a negative effect on academic science. The findings to be presented in Boston are preliminary, however, and Thompson, Mowery, and Ziedonis continue to refine their analysis.