The patenting activity of German Universities

Abstract

Patents serve as indicators of a university’s knowledge base; consequently, information on the patent volumes and patenting activity of universities is crucial for scientific and industrial organizations and policy makers. By matching secondary patent data from PATSTAT with secondary data on German universities from the CHE research ranking, we provided a broad overview of the patenting activity of German universities. Specifically, we first introduced a patent ranking. Second, we analyzed a broad spectrum of different indicators of the patenting behavior of German universities. Third, we analyzed potential determinants of their patent output. Our data revealed that patenting activity varied not only among the 25 universities that had the highest overall number of patent applications between 2002 and 2011 but also among the 156 universities that filed at least one patent. Using a Heckman sample selection model for our regression analyses, we analyzed (1) the influence of university size, university type, technical university, and faculty profile on the probability that a German university was active in patenting (N = 328) and (2) the relationships between patenting experience, research breadth, and research quality and the patent output of German universities (N = 156). Our findings suggest that patent output at least partly depends on these determinants, thereby shedding light on the substantial performance differences in patenting activities that existed in our sample.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. 1.

    In the following, we use the term university as collective term for traditional universities, universities of applied sciences, and colleges of art and music.

  2. 2.

    We thank an anonymous reviewer for highlighting this difference.

  3. 3.

    The PATSTAT database is the EPO Worldwide Patent Statistical Database licensed by the OECD-EPO Task Force on Patent Statistics. We employed the April 2012 version for our analyses.

  4. 4.

    Please note that patent output was significantly lower in 1992-2001 relative to the period that we consider here (e.g., in our sample of 156 universities: number of patent families: M = 10,987, SD = 2.54 in 1992-2001 compared to M = 52,686, SD = 6.94 in 2002-2011; number of patent applications: M = 29,474, SD = 6.16 in 1992-2001 compared to M = 135,321, SD = 17.87 in 2002–2011).

  5. 5.

    In the following, we use the terms patent and patent application interchangeably.

  6. 6.

    We thank an anonymous reviewer for advising us to include the faculty profiles in our model.

  7. 7.

    A patent ranking of all 328 universities is available upon request.

  8. 8.

    We thank an anonymous reviewer for this valuable comment.

  9. 9.

    Note that a post hoc analysis based on data from 1992 to 2001 revealed that this explanation for the contradictory finding concerning patenting experience is valid for patent applications; however, for the other dependent variables (i.e., for patent families, PCT applications, and IPC4 breadth), our results were robust, indicating that there might be other reasons for the conflicting results.

References

  1. Acosta M, Coronado D, León MD et al (2009) Production of university technological knowledge in European regions: evidence from patent data. Reg Stud 43:1167–1181

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Amabile TM, Hill KG, Hennessey BA et al (1994) The work preference inventory: assessing intrinsic and extrinsic motivational orientations. J Pers Soc Psychol 66:950–967

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Argote L, Miron-Spektor E (2011) Organizational learning: from experience to knowledge. Organ Sci 22:1123–1137

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Azoulay P, Ding W, Stuart T (2007) The determinants of faculty patenting behavior: demographics or opportunities? J Econ Behav Organ 63:599–623

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Azoulay P, Ding W, Stuart T (2009) The impact of academic patenting on the rate, quality and direction of (public) research output. J Ind Econ 57:637–676

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Baldini N (2009) Implementing Bayh-Dole-like laws: Faculty problems and their impact on university patenting activity. Res Policy 38:1217–1224

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Berghoff S, Federkeil G, Giebisch P et al (2008) Das CHE Forschungsranking deutscher Universitäten 2008. Arbeitspapier. Centrum für Hochschulentwicklung, Gütersloh

    Google Scholar 

  8. Blind K, Grupp H (1999) Interdependencies between the science and technology infrastructure and innovation activities in German regions: empirical findings and policy consequences. Res Policy 28:451–468

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Bloom N, Van Reenen J (2002) Patents, real options and firm performance. Econ J 112:C97–C116

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Brockhoff K (1998) Patentierung von Hochschullehrererfindungen. In: Franke N, von Braun C-F (eds) Innovationsforschung und Technologiemanagement. Springer, Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  11. Carayannis EG, Alexander J (1999) The wealth of knowledge: converting intellectual property to intellectual capital in co-opetitive research and technology management settings. Int J Technol Manag 18:326–352

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Carayol N, Matt M (2004) Does research organization influence academic production? Laboratory level evidence from a large European university. Res Policy 33:1081–1102

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Carlsson B, Acs ZJ, Audretsch DB et al (2009) Knowledge creation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth: a historical review. Ind Corp Change 18:1193–1229

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Cohen WM, Nelson RR, Walsh JP (2002) Links and impacts: the influence of public research on industrial R&D. Manag Sci 48:1–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Coupé T (2003) Science is golden: Academic R&D and university patents. J Technol Transf 28:31–46

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Cuntz A, Dauchert H, Meurer P et al (2012) Hochschulpatente zehn Jahre nach Abschaffung des Hochschullehrerprivilegs. Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem 13. Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation (EFI), Berlin

  17. Czarnitzki D, Glänzel W, Hussinger K (2009) Heterogeneity of patenting activity and its implications for scientific research. Res Policy 38:26–34

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Deci EL (1971) Effects of externally mediated rewards on intrinsic motivation. J Pers Soc Psychol 18:105–115

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Dilger A (2010) Rankings von Zeitschriften und Personen in der BWL. Zeitschrift für Management 5:91–102

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Dilger A, Müller H (2012) Ein Forschungsleistungsranking auf der Grundlage von Google Scholar. Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft 82:1089–1105

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Eisenhardt KM, Santos FM (2006) Knowledge-based view: a new theory of strategy? In: Pettigrew A, Thomas H, Whittington R (eds) Handbook of strategy and management. SAGE Publications Ltd, London

    Google Scholar 

  22. Fabrizio KR (2006) The use of university research in firm innovation. In: Chesbrough H, Vanhaverbeke W, West J (eds) Open innovation Researching a new paradigm. Oxford Usniversity Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  23. Fabrizio KR, Di Minin A (2008) Commercializing the laboratory: Faculty patenting and the open science environment. Res Policy 37:914–931

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Foltz JD, Kwansoo K, Barham B (2003) A dynamic analysis of university agricultural biotechnology patent production. Am J Agric Econ 85:187

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Frietsch R, Schmoch U, Neuhäusler P et al (2010) Patent applications—structures, trends and recent developments. Studien zum deutschen Innovationssystem. Expertenkommission Forschung und Innovation (EFI), Berlin

  26. Fritsch M, Slavtchev V (2006) Universities and innovation in space. Freiberg Working Paper. 15 Freiberg: Technical University Bergakademie

  27. Geuna A, Nesta LJJ (2006) University patenting and its effects on academic research: the emerging European evidence. Res Policy 35:790–807

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Geuna A, Rossi F (2011) Changes to university IPR regulations in Europe and the impact on academic patenting. Res Policy 40:1068–1076

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Grant RM (1996a) Prospering in dynamically-competitive environments: organizational capability as knowledge integration. Organ Sci 7:375–387

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Grant RM (1996b) Toward a knowledge-based theory of the firm. Strateg Manag J 17:109–122

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Grant RM (1997) The knowledge-based view of the firm: implications for management practice. Long Range Plan 30:450–454

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Grant RM (2010) Contemporary strategy analysis. Wiley, Chichester

    Google Scholar 

  33. Hall BH (2007) Patents and patent policy. Oxf Rev Econ Policy 23:568–587

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Hall BH, Jaffe A, Trajtenberg M (2005) Market value and patent citations. RAND J Econ 36:16–38

    Google Scholar 

  35. Hargadon A, Sutton RI (1997) Technology brokering and innovation in a product developing firm. Adm Sci Q 42:716–749

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Harhoff D, Narin F, Scherer FM et al (1999) Citation frequency and the value of patented inventions. Rev Econ Stat 81:511–515

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Häussler C, Harhoff D, Müller E (2012) To be financed or not: The role of patents for venture capital-financing. Discussion Paper 09-003. ZEW—Centre for European Economic Research, Mannheim

  38. Henderson R, Jaffe A, Trajtenberg M (1998) Universities as a source of commercial technology: a detailed analysis of university patenting, 1965–1988. Rev Econ Stat 80:119–127

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Hewitt-Dundas N (2012) Research intensity and knowledge transfer activity in UK universities. Res Policy 41:262–275

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Hinze S, Reiss T, Schmoch U (1997) Statistical analysis on the distance between fields of technology. Report for Research Project “Innovation Systems and European Integration (ISI)” funded by the European Commission (DG XII). Fraunhofer Institute of Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), Karlsruhe

  41. Qualitätssicherung im CHE Hochschulranking (2014). Center for Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.che-ranking.de/methodenwiki/index.php/Qualit%C3%A4tssicherung_im_CHE_Hochschulranking

  42. Huelsbeck M, Menno D (2007) German University Patenting and Licensing: Does Policy Matter? Paper for the 2nd Annual Conference of the EPIP Association 2007

  43. Huggins R, Johnston A, Steffenson R (2008) Universities, knowledge networks and regional policy. Camb J Reg Econ Soc 1:321–340

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Joshi KD, Sarker S, Sarker S (2007) Knowledge transfer within information system development teams: examining the role of knowledge source attributes. Decis Support Syst 43:322–335

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Keller RT (2012) Predicting the performance and innovativeness of scientists and engineers. J Appl Psychol 97:225–233

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Kennedy P (1992) A Guide to Econometrics. Blackwell, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  47. Kogut B, Zander U (1992) Knowledge of the firm, combinative capabilities, and the replication of technology. Organ Sci 3:383–397

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Kogut B, Zander U (1993) Knowledge of the firm and the evolutionary theory of the multinational corporation. J Int Bus Stud 34:516–529

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Lach S, Schankerman M (2004) Royalty sharing and technology licensing in universities. J Eur Econ Assoc 2:252–264

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Lerner J (1994) The importance of patent scope: an empirical analysis. RAND J Econ 25:319–333

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Marco AC (2007) The dynamics of patent citations. Econ Lett 94:290–296

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Melo AI, Sarrico CS, Radnor Z (2010) The influence of performance management systems on key actors in universities. Public Manag Rev 12:233–254

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Minssen H, Wilkesmann U (2003) Lassen Hochschulen sich steuern? Soziale Welt 54:123–144

    Google Scholar 

  54. Monk AHB (2009) The emerging market for intellectual property: drivers, restrainers, and implications. J Econ Geogr 9:469–491

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Mowery DC, Shane S (2002) Introduction to the special issue on university entrepreneurship and technology transfer. Manag Sci 48:v–ix

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Mowery DC, Nelson RR, Sampat BN et al (2001) The growth of patenting and licensing by U.S. universities: an assessment of the effects of the Bayh-Dole act of 1980. Res Policy 30:99–119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Nonaka I (1991) The knowledge creating company. Harv Bus Rev 69:96–104

    Google Scholar 

  58. Nonaka I (1994) A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation. Organ Sci 5:14–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Nonaka I, Takeuchi H (1995) The knowledge-creating company. Oxford University Press, New York

    Google Scholar 

  60. Nonaka I, Takeuchi H, Umemoto K (1996) A theory of organizational knowledge creation. Int J Technol Manag 11:833–845

    Google Scholar 

  61. O’Shea RP, Allen TJ, Chevalier A et al (2005) Entrepreneurial orientation, technology transfer and spinoff performance of U.S. universities. Res Policy 34:994–1009

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Osterloh M (2010) Governance by numbers. Does it really work in research? Anal und Kritik 2:267–283

    Google Scholar 

  63. Pellert A (1999) Die Universität als Organisation: Die Kunst. Experten zu managen. Böhlau, Wien

    Google Scholar 

  64. Perkmann M, Walsh K (2007) University–industry relationships and open innovation: towards a research agenda. Int J Manag Rev 9:259–280

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Perkmann M, King Z, Pavelin S (2011) Engaging excellence? Effects of faculty quality on university engagement with industry. Res Policy 40:539–552

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Putnam J (1996) The value of international patent rights. Unpublished dissertation. Yale University

  67. Ramello GB (2005) Intellectual property and the markets of ideas. Rev Netw Econ 4:69–88

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Ringelhan S, Wollersheim J, Welpe IM et al (2013) Work motivation and job satisfaction as antecedents of research performance: investigation of different mediation models. J Bus Econ (ZfB) 3:7–38

    Google Scholar 

  69. Santoro MD, Bierly PE (2006) Facilitators of knowledge transfer in university-industry collaborations: a knowledge-based perspective. IEEE Trans Eng Manag 53:495–507

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Sapsalis E, Van de la Pottelsberghe Potterie B, Navon R (2006) Academic versus industry patenting: an in-depth analysis of what determines patent value. Res Policy 35:1631–1645

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Sauermann H, Stephan P (2012) Conflicting logics? A multidimensional view of industrial and academic science. Organization Science published online before print September 10, 2012

  72. Schmoch U (2000) Rechtliche Situation von Patenten an Hochschulen. In: Schmoch U, Licht G, Reinhard M (eds) Wissens- und Technologietransfer in Deutschland. Fraunhofer IRB, Stuttgart

    Google Scholar 

  73. Schmoch U, Schubert T, Jansen D et al (2010) How to use indicators to measure scientific performance: a balanced approach. Res Eval 19:2–18

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Schoen A, Buenstorf G (2013) When do universities own their patents? An explorative study of patent characteristics and organizational determinants in Germany. Ind Innov 20:422–437

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Schulze A, Brojerdi G, von Krogh G (2014) Those who know, do. Those who understand, teach. Disseminative capability and knowledge transfer in the automotive industry. J Prod Innov Manag 31:79–97

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Siegel DS, Waldman D, Link A (2003) Assessing the impact of organizational practices on the relative productivity of university technology transfer offices: an exploratory study. Res Policy 32:27–48

    Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Sine WD, Shane S, Di Gregorio D (2003) The halo effect and technology licensing: the influence of institutional prestige on the licensing of university inventions. Manag Sci 49:478–496

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Spender J-C (1996) Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm. Strateg Manag J 17:45–62

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Tang F, Mu J, MacLachlan DL (2010) Disseminative capacity, organizational structure and knowledge transfer. Expert Syst Appl 37:1586–1593

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Van Looy B, Landoni P, Callaert J et al (2011) Entrepreneurial effectiveness of European universities: an empirical assessment of antecedents and trade-offs. Res Policy 40:553–564

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Verspagen B (2006) University research, intellectual property rights and European innovation systems. J Econ Surv 20:607–626

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Vinig T, van Rijsbergen P (2009) Determinants of university technology transfer: Comparative study of US, Europe and Australian universities. SSRN. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1324601 or 10.2139/ssrn.1324601

  83. Von Ledebur S, Buenstorf G, Hummel M (2009) University patenting in Germany before and after 2002: What role did the professors’ privilege play? Jena Economic Research Paper 68

  84. Wahab SA, Rose RC, Uli J, Abdullah H (2009) A review on the technology transfer models, knowledge-based and organizational learning models on technology transfer. Eur J Soc Sci 10(4). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1949149

  85. Wayne KT (2010) Determinants of commercial innovation for university technology transfer. J Behav Stud Bus 2:1–22

    Google Scholar 

  86. Zollo M, Winter SG (2002) Deliberate learning and the evolution of dynamic capabilities. Organ Sci 13:339–351

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF). This study was conducted as part of a BMBF-funded project in a research program on the topic of “Wissenschaftsökonomie”. Additionally, the authors thank the four anonymous reviewers of the Journal of Business Economics and the Editor, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Fandel. This manuscript has benefited substantially from their valuable comments and suggestions.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Philipp Sandner.

Additional information

J. Glauber and J. Wollersheim contributed equally to this work and should be considered co-first authors.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Glauber, J., Wollersheim, J., Sandner, P. et al. The patenting activity of German Universities. J Bus Econ 85, 719–757 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11573-014-0748-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Patenting
  • University patent
  • Academic performance
  • Knowledge-based view

JEL Classification

  • O32
  • O34
  • I20