Public and Private Universities: Unequal Sources of Regional Innovation?
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Public universities occupy a unique place in the research and development system of the United States due to their state-controlled missions, sources of funding, and administrative structures. State governments support public university research, which benefits local industry and stimulates innovation-based economic development. This paper examines the geographic distribution of university patent citations over the years 1975 to 2000 to test if public university research spillovers are more likely to be localized at the state level as compared to those of private universities. I find little evidence in support of this hypothesis, but a positive association between the quality of academic research and localization of resulting spillovers. Public universities should emphasize research quality as a means of fulfilling their regional innovation commitments.