The Privately Funded University Research System
The ideology of American science that emerged from World War I, and that was enshrined in the National Research Council, foresaw the advancement of knowledge led by a partnership between the universities, private industry, and the philanthropic foundations. Universities and foundations, after a halting start, had joined forces by the middle of the 1920s to provide a powerful impetus to scientific development. The role of industry, however, was somewhat more equivocal. Contemporary rhetoric stressed the continuity and complementarity of the basic research pursued in universities and the applied research utilized by industry. Business was thus presumed to have a vital stake in the research of university scientists, but just how this stake ought to be embodied in institutional relationships was a matter of continual uncertainty. Moreover, this was a fundamental issue underlying the privately funded university research system: there was a significant difference between relying upon the surplus wealth of previous generations and tapping directly into the wellspring of productivity for the private economy. The potential link between private industry and university research that was optimistically posited immediately after the war had in fact a long-range significance for the privately funded university research system that was just beginning to take shape.
Business interacted with science and universities over a broad front. Much of the wealth that flowed into American universities in the form of