Higher Education. (Bureau News)

Article excerpt

The NBER's Working Group on Higher Education, directed by Charles T. Clotfelter of Duke University, met in Cambridge on May 3. They discussed these papers:

Jerry G. Thursby, Emory University, and Marie C. Thursby, NBER and Georgia Tech, "Are Faculty Critical? Their Role in University/Industry Licensing"

Discussant: Abigail Payne, University of Illinois

Paula E. Stephan, Shiferaw Gurmu, A.J. Summell, and Grant Black, Georgia State University, "Patenting and Publishing: Substitutes or Complements for University Faculty?"

Discussant: Jerry R. Green, NBER and Harvard University

David M. Linsenmeier, Princeton University, and Harvey S. Rosen and Cecilia E. Rouse, NBER and Princeton University, "Financial Aid Packages and College Enrollment Decisions: An Econometric Case Study"

Discussant: Susan Dynarski, NBER and Harvard University

Thomas J. Kane, NBER and University of California, Los Angeles, "A Quasi-Experimental Estimate of the Impact of Financial Aid on College-Going"

Discussant: Bridget Long, Harvard University

Jesse M. Rothstein, University of California, Berkeley, "College Performance Predictions and the SAT"

Discussant: Chris Avery, NBER and Harvard University

Randall Reback, University of Michigan, "The Impact of College Course Offerings on the Supply of Academically Talented Public School Teachers"

Discussant: Caroline M. Hoxby, NBER and Harvard University

University licensing has increased in the recent past, and this growth has not been without controversy. Recent research shows that faculty often are involved in the license process well beyond the disclosure of an invention to their university. This involvement includes the identification of potential licensees and assistance in the further development of a licensed technology Thursby and Thursby present evidence from a survey of 112 firms that license university inventions. Their results characterize the nature of firms which actively licensed-in from universities, the nature of university technologies that were licensed-in, and the nature of faculty involvement in licensing. One advantage of their data is that they can examine the relationship between license and sponsored-research agreements involving faculty participation and business characteristics of interest, such as "absorptive capacity" and "connectedness." These are, respectively, a firm's ability to utilize university research and the ability of firms to augment their internal capacity with faculty contacts. Thursby and Thursby find that absorptive capacity and connectedness play different roles depending on whether faculty participation in further development is done within the confines of a license agreement for a sponsored research agreement.

Innovative activity in the university sector generally is studied at the institutional level. Stephan, Gurmu, Sumell, and Black refocus the lens by examining the effects of individual and institutional characteristics on the patent activity of a sample of faculty. They are particularly interested in the relationship between patenting and publishing. The crowding-out hypothesis suggests that faculty patent instead of publishing; the alternative hypothesis, suggesting complementarity between patenting and publishing, also is explored. Using data from the 1995 Survey of Doctorate Recipients, the authors estimate a zero-inflated negative binomial (ZINB model) of patenting activity for the fields of the life sciences, engineering, computer science, and the physical sciences. They choose this model because of the discrete nature of the data and the high occurrence of zeros. Their preliminary results suggest that at the individual level patenting and publishing are complementary activities.

Linsenmeier, Rosen, and Rouse study the effects of a change in financial aid policy introduced by a northeastern university in 1998. …