Red tape and technology transfer in US government laboratories


The purpose of this paper is to gauge the effects of red tape and bureaucratization on the technology-transfer activities and effectiveness of government laboratories in the United States. Two central questions are addressed: Do laboratories involved significantly in technology transfer have more red tape than others? and Does the level of red tape have an effect on technology-transfer success? Objective and perceptual measures of red tape are used. Technology transfer effectiveness is measured in terms of getting other organizations to adopt technology developed in the laboratory (“out the door” success) and of the commercial impact of transfers. Data are derived from questionnaire responses provided by directors of 276 federal- and state-government laboratories. Results indicate that laboratories involved in technology transfer do not have higher levels of red tape. Out-the-door technology-transfer success relates strongly to low degrees of perceived red tape, whereas high ratings for commercial impact are associated with actual low levels of red tape in acquiring project funding and low cost equipment.

Full Paper

Bozeman, B. & Crow, M. (1991). Red tape and technology transfer in US government laboratories. The Journal of Technology Transfer, 16 (2), 29-37., 1991