Academic scientists and knowledge commercialization: self-determination and diverse motivations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter draws on self-determination theory to explain the mix of pecuniary and non-pecuniary motivational drivers underlying academic scientists’ commercial pursuits. It examines the diversity of their personal motivations for knowledge commercialization and how this is influenced by their values and beliefs about the science-business relationship. It argues that scientists can be extrinsically or intrinsically motivated to different degrees in their pursuit of knowledge commercialization, depending how far they have internalized the values associated with it. Beyond reputational and financial rewards, intrinsic motivations (e.g. pro-social norms and hedonic motivation) are also powerful drivers of commercial engagement. The conventional assumption that scientists are motivated by reputational rewards and the intrinsic satisfaction of puzzle-solving in academic research while commercial engagement is driven primarily by the pursuit of the financial rewards builds on a false dichotomy and polarized view of human motivation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIncentives and Performance: Governance of Knowledge-Intensive Organizations
EditorsI Welpe, J Wollersheim, S Ringelhan, M Osterloh
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-09785-5
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-09784-8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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