The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 271–296 | Cite as

Ready to leave the ivory tower?: Academic scientists’ appeal to work in the private sector

  • Michael Fritsch
  • Stefan Krabel


This study investigates the factors that shape the attitudes of scientists toward starting their own business or working in a private sector firm. The analysis is based on data collected from scientists working in the German Max Planck Society, a research institution devoted to basic science. We find that the scientists’ attractiveness of working in a private sector firm or of starting their own business differ considerably according to their academic discipline and the self-reported commercial potential of their research. The ability to take risks, prior work experience in private firms, and personal experience in cooperating with industry lead to a positive attitude towards switching to private sector employment or entrepreneurship. Strong willingness to freely distribute research findings is related to a low appeal of private sector work.


Knowledge transfer Science Entrepreneurship Innovation Commercialization 

JEL Classification

O31 O33 L26 L32 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics and Business AdministrationFriedrich Schiller UniversityJenaGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Economics, Economic Policy ResearchUniversity of KasselKasselGermany

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