Commercial science, scientists' values, and university biotechnology research agendas

Leland L. Glenna, Rick Welsh, David Ervin, William B. Lacy, Dina Biscotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Policies designed to promote the commercialization of university science have provoked concern that basic and publicly accessible research may be neglected. Commercialization policies have altered traditional institutional incentives and constraints, which raises new questions regarding the influence of scientists' values on university research agendas. Our research builds on previous quantitative studies measuring changes in research outcomes and qualitative studies probing differentiation among scientists' value orientations. We developed a nation-wide survey of 912 plant and animal biotechnology scientists at 60 research universities. Our analysis reveals that scientists' value orientations on what we classify as "market" and "expert" science affect the amount of industry funding they receive, the proprietary nature of their discoveries, and the percentage of basic science research conducted in their laboratories. We also find that the percentage of industry funding is significantly associated with more applied research. Our findings provide insights for science and society theory and suggest that strong incentives for public-science research along with adequate public-research funds to preserve the university's vital role in conducting basic and non-proprietary research are needed to complement private-sector research investments at universities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)957-968
Number of pages12
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Agricultural biotechnology
  • Bayh-Dole Act
  • Commercial science
  • Private research funding
  • Scientist values
  • University-industry relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Commercial science, scientists' values, and university biotechnology research agendas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this