Cahiers Economiques de Bruxelles vol:169 pages:85-114
This paper investigates how the different mechanisms for knowledge transfer are linked to the underlying technological life cycle. Following the most recent developments in the organizational economics literature, we analyze knowledge transfer from an incentive point of view. We modified the basic version of the incomplete contracts model (or property rights model) to include knowledge as an asset. The empirical hypotheses which can be derived from this model are contrasted to other streams of thought such as organizational ecology. Using this comparison as a guideline, we undertake a first empirical test of this property rights model in two technological subfields of biotechnology: monoclonal antibodies and protein engineering. The results, though tentative, are challenging: the property rights model clearly adds to our insights in spin-offs as a mechanism for knowledge transfer and in the incentive factors that influence an organization's decision to enter a technological collaboration with a university or another biotech firm.