Dr. John P. Walsh is a Professor in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology and an International Affiliated Fellow at Japan’s National Institute for Science and Technology Policy. He received his PhD in sociology from Northwestern University. He studies the organization of innovation in science and technology. Recent work includes studies of the organization of creativity and of misconduct in science, the division of innovative labor across firms, university-industry linkages in the US and Japan, and country and industry differences in the role of patents in firm strategy. His work has been published in Science, American Sociological Review, Research Policy, Social Studies of Science, and Management Science. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the Kauffman Foundation, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, the Matsushita Foundation and the Japan Foundation, and he has done consulting for the National Academy of Sciences, the OECD, the European Commission and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In this paper, we use data from the Carnegie Mellon Survey on Industrial R&D to evaluate for the U.S. manufacturing sector the influence of "public" (i.e., university and government R&D lab) research on industrial R&D, the role that public research plays in industrial R&D, and the pathways through which that effect is exercised. We find that public research is critical to industrial R&D in a small number of industries and importantly affects industrial R&D across much of the manufacturing sector. Contrary to the notion that university research largely generates new ideas for industrial R&D projects, the survey responses demonstrate that public research both suggests new R&D projects and contributes to the completion of existing projects in roughly equal measure overall. The results also indicate that the key channels through which university research impacts industrial R&D include published papers and reports, public conferences and meetings, informal information exchange and consulting. We also find that, after controlling for industry, the influence of public research on industrial R&D is disproportionately greater for larger firms as well as startups.