MIT postdoctoral fellow Douglas O’Reagan, writing for Physics Today:
Over the course of centuries, a struggle has been playing out about who gets to own ideas. Is it the person who comes up with them? The employer who funds the research? Or should the ideas be somehow shared between them? […]
By the 1990s teams of MBAs and business-school scholars joined forces to see if advances in information technology, management techniques, law, and sociology could allow them to extract workers’ know-how so that the company could store and own it indefinitely. The resulting academic research field and management fad became known as “knowledge management.”
This article traces changes in US law, business practices, and social expectations about research and invention in order to illuminate the history of business control over scientists’ ideas.
I found this a short and fascinating look into the world of academics and scientific research. It got me thinking too, and now I’m curious how big tech companies like Google or Apple approach this sort of “knowledge management”, especially as it relates to academic- and research-driven departments like machine learning or artificial intelligence.