Small Business Economics

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 819–833 | Cite as

Self-employment: the role of intellectual property right laws

  • Andrew BurkeEmail author
  • Stuart Fraser


Little is known about the impact of intellectual property rights (IPRs) on typically imitative self-employment. IPR laws have contrasting dual innovation creation and access effects on self-employment activity. The first effect is positive where strong IPR laws promote innovation and so create new opportunities for self-employment. The second effect is negative where strong IPR laws restrict access to innovation and technology used as inputs to self-employed businesses. Using a 33-country dataset over the period 1995–2000, we estimate the impact of IPR laws on self-employment, helping to fill the vacuum of empirical evidence that has plagued policy decision making in this area. We find that patent activity has a negative effect on self-employment. However, overall, we find that more extensive and strong IPR laws have a net positive effect on self-employment activity.


Self-employment Intellectual property rights Law 

JEL Classifications

L2 O33 O34 P48 L2 L26 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cranfield School of ManagementCranfield, BedfordUK
  2. 2.Warwick Business SchoolCoventryUK

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