Creating the Market University

How Academic Science Became an Economic Engine

Winner of awards from the American Sociological Association’s sections on Organizations, Occupations & Work and Sociology of Education, and from the Social Science History Association

Order from Princeton University Press or Amazon.

Sample chapters: Chapter 1, “Academic Science as Economic Engine;” Chapter 4, “Faculty Entrepreneurship in the Biosciences”

American universities today serve as economic engines, performing the scientific research that will create new industries, drive economic growth, and keep the United States globally competitive. But only a few decades ago, these same universities self-consciously held themselves apart from the world of commerce. Creating the Market University is the first book to systematically examine why academic science made such a dramatic move toward the market. Drawing on extensive historical research, I show how the government–influenced by the argument that innovation drives the economy–brought about this transformation.

Americans have a long tradition of making heroes out of their inventors. But before the 1960s and ’70s neither policymakers nor economists paid much attention to the critical economic role played by innovation. However, during the late 1970s, a confluence of events–industry concern with the perceived deterioration of innovation in the United States, a growing body of economic research on innovation’s importance, and the stagnation of the larger economy–led to a broad political interest in fostering invention. The policy decisions shaped by this change were diverse, influencing arenas from patents and taxes to pensions and science policy, and encouraged practices that would focus specifically on the economic value of academic science. By the early 1980s, universities were nurturing the rapid growth of areas such as biotech entrepreneurship, patenting, and university-industry research centers.

Contributing to debates about the relationship between universities, government, and industry, Creating the Market University sheds light on how knowledge and politics intersect to structure the economy.


“Many scholars have opined about the new entrepreneurial university, but few have carefully and analytically explored its historical origins. Elizabeth Popp Berman masterfully charts the roads traveled from the ivory tower to the market, and brilliantly illuminates how political choices and financial forces shaped the process that now celebrates universities as engines of economic development.”–Walter W. Powell, Stanford University

“Much of the scholarship on university-industry relations, or more broadly the commercialization of the university, is ahistorical. Creating the Market University not only shows variations across time in the array of university-industry relations experimented with, but it makes a nuanced historical argument to explain their success in the 1980s. Sound and exciting, this book is a pleasure to read.”–Daniel Kleinman, University of Wisconsin–Madison

“Extending arguments and evidence in economics, sociology, education, management, and technology policy, Creating the Market University provides a sophisticated and compelling account of how academic scientists, and the universities within which they are embedded, increasingly embraced a market logic that valorizes patenting and technology commercialization. Elizabeth Popp Berman demonstrates the importance of understanding how scientific and technological innovation at universities serves as an engine of economic growth.”–Michael Lounsbury, University of Alberta