Why corporate science commercialization fails: Integrating diverse perspectives

Shaker A. Zahra, Aseem Kaul, María Teresa Bolívar-Ramos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Corporate science-basic scientific knowledge developed by for-profit firms-is an important driver of both scientific progress and commercial development. However, mounting evidence suggests that while difficult and expensive to produce, much of the knowledge this science generates goes uncommercialized. Given the benefits companies and their shareholders could derive from corporate science, we analyze the factors that lead to failure to commercialize it. Specifically, we propose that institutional, knowledge, capability, agency, organizational design, and cognitive forces combine to cause this failure. Further, we integrate the different theoretical perspectives related to each of these forces to delineate the factors that impede the commercialization of corporate science and clarify their implications for future research, public policy, and managers. Drawing parallels with university-based research, we also highlight the importance of science as a source of value creation, an issue that has been relatively underexplored in the management literature despite its value to firms, their stakeholders, and society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-176
Number of pages21
JournalAcademy of Management Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

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