Time of adoption and intensity of technology transfer: an institutional analysis of offices of technology transfer in the United States

Federico Castillo*, J. Keith Gilless, Amir Heiman, David Zilberman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This paper considers the adoption of institutional innovations by not for profit organizations, an issue that can be considered in the context of the extensive literature on the adoption of technological innovation by firms. The specific institutional innovation considered is the offices of technology transfer (OTT)—the organization that assemble and disclose university innovations and negotiate and enforce licenses with users of these innovations. We propose a theoretical framework that depart from previous studies by focusing on the timing decision of institutions rather than on the percentage of institutions that adopt at each point in time. Our theoretical framework also incorporates organization theory via imitation effects on the timing of adoption. We find that number of adopters has an S-shape function of time, which may indicate a strong element of imitation led universities to create OTTs. We also find that universities with higher research incomes and rankings were earlier adopters of the OTT model and that universities with medical schools were generally late adopters. Finally, we find that the number of universities who have already adopted the OTT model increases the speed by which other non-adopters make their OTT adoption decisions and that the number of invention disclosures, a primary indicator of output of OTTs, increases with the size of research budget, is smaller for those with medical schools, and larger for those that were earlier adopters of OTT. Section 1 of the paper discusses the recent trends in technology transfer while Section 2 reviews the advent of OTTs as facilitators of technology transfer activities. Section 3 reviews the relevant technology and institutional innovation literature. Section 4 develops a conceptual framework that links Sections 2 and 3 to analyze the advent and timing of the establishment of OTTs. Section 5 estimates the time of adoption of the OTT working model on the part of major research universities in the US, and analyzes the impact of time of adoption of the OTT model on the intensity of the technology transfer process. Section 6 presents empirical results while the conclusions and policy implications are discussed in Section 7.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)120-138
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Technology Transfer
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Adoption
  • Heterogeneity
  • Institutional innovation
  • Mimetic isomorphism


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