Jason Owen-Smith, University of Michigan

Lecture title:

Epochal Institutional Change and Academic Research Commercialization


Jason Owen-Smith, Organizational Studies and Sociology, University of Michigan

Speaker(s) Web Pages:

Semester: Fall 2005

Date: Friday, September 23, 2005

Time: 1:30 - 3:00 PM

Venue: Room 4212, School of Education

Additional Notes:

Introducer: Jane Dutton, Ross School of Business


I propose an epochal model of institutional change. That model links transformations in a field to the timing and entry points of participants into novel activities. Situated organizational action drives change, but contingent patterns of transformation result in systematic, progressive constraints on behavior and outcomes. Thus, field level transformations are both complex, history dependent outcomes of organizational effort and sources of significant constraint. This paper draws on 18 years (1981-1998) of panel data on patenting and publishing by research-intensive U.S. universities to demonstrate that shifts in institutional rules catalyze lasting change in fields by sparking organizational activity that can transform emergent features of the environment such as stratification systems. Public and proprietary uses of university science are not inherently contradictory. Instead dangers associated with academic research commercialization stem from the process by which publishing and patenting came to represent a hybrid system of advantage.

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Epochal Institutional Change and Academic Research Commercialization

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