scope of this report. Hagedoorn (2002) and Hagedoorn et al. (2000) are good entry points into the literature on inter-firm R&D partnerships.

To one extent or another, all the contributions to this literature touch on at least one of four main thematic areas. These are the: (1) motivations of the various parties for participating (objectives, expected benefits); (2) potential risks to the participants (conflicts of interest, comprising public trust, legal liability, loss of proprietary information, compromising the research and educational mission of universities); (3) characteristics of the institutional forms identified above (legal form, intellectual property [IP] rights, governance); and (4) evaluation of the outcomes or perceived success of the institutional forms.

Standing back and looking at the literature as a whole reveals considerable variation in the detail and depth of understanding across these areas. A large descriptive segment of the literature concentrates on the motivations and potential risks of public-private R&D collaboration. A number of studies provide general descriptions of the institutional forms but, overall, they provide very little detail about the specific structure of the relationships within any institutional form. Structural detail would define the role of each partner in various areas such as the decision making hierarchy, the ownership of IP, the funding, the performance of work, and the evaluation of the work. There are some case studies that provide insights into these structural aspects of collaboration. A much smaller group of quantitative studies tries to measure the outcomes or use some indicator of success. Again, these focus on evaluating the alternative institutional forms.

In each of the following two sections, we systematically discuss the findings in the literature related to the thematic areas. For each partnership participant, section 2 summarizes their motivations and risks. Section 3 presents information on the structure and outcomes for the five institutional arrangements identified above. Section 4 concludes the report with some reflections on the key messages that emerge from this diverse literature.


A main thrust in the literature is to understand the incentives that motivate participants to form public-private R&D partnerships. Public and private agents are quite different. National governments, intergovernmental agencies, universities, for-profit firms, foundations, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) all answer to different constituencies, operate under different norms of behavior, and frequently pursue different sets of objectives.1 How is it possible that these disparate parties have sufficient incentives to form a collaborative relationship?


Paul (2000) discusses the definition and origin of the NGO category. Although foundations are often included in this category, we mention them separately because advocacy is not central to their mission, whereas NGOs such as Greenpeace have a strong advocacy arm.

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