Abstract

Technology licensing officers play an important role in the commercialization process of university inventions. Because the rights to inventions of faculty, staff and students at U.S. universities, as well as most universities in Europe, belong to the institutions where those inventions were made, technology licensing officers regulate which inventions should be commercialized. In this respect, technology licensing officers evaluate invention disclosures and select the inventions they believe are valuable to industry. However, most university inventions are in such an early stage of development that there is much uncertainty regarding their potential. Research on the evaluation of science and technology shows that evaluators are influenced by the status of the actors associated with new work; particularly in situations where there is uncertainty about the quality of an innovation. To examine whether inventor status influences technology licensing officers’ evaluation of inventions, we conducted two randomized experiments with technology licensing officers at United States research universities. Our experiments reveal that licensing officers are influenced by inventor status and that the inventions of high status inventors are perceived to have more commercial potential. These findings are important to better understand the role of inventor attributes and the decisions of technology licensing officers in commercialization processes of university inventions.

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