Julien Pénin

My research focuses on the socio-economic dynamics of the innovation process. In particular I study the tensions, but also the complementarities, between open access and exclusive access to knowledge and innovations. Both openness and exclusivity are important elements for research and innovation. But they naturally tend to oppose each other. It is therefore fundamental to understand this ambivalent relationship in order to implement good public policies to support innovation and, for companies, good innovation strategies.

This theme led me to focus on three topics in particular which crystallize the ambivalence between openness and exclusivity: (1) the role of intellectual property rights in the knowledge economy; (2) the organization of the innovation process (and more particularly the phenomena of open innovation and open source innovation); and (3) the interactions between firms and universities.

First, with regard to patent, my research took the opposite view from the standard vision, which considers patent as being solely an instrument of exclusion, by showing that patent can also be an instrument to structure open innovation, to facilitate collaboration and exchanges between innovation stakeholders. More recently, my research has explored the contexts in which the patent system plays an exclusive role and the contexts in which it plays a more inclusive role. I also had to use experimental economics techniques to understand the economic consequences of intellectual property rights.

Secondly, I was interested in the organization of the innovation process, by studying in particular very interactive and very open modes of organizations, such as open source innovation or open innovation processes for example. I studied the contexts favorable to these more open organizations, the role of intellectual property, as well as the role of intermediary actors that facilitate open innovation processes. This subject is fundamental because it is likely that with the progress of communication technologies, digitization, etc., more open and interactive modes of organization will rapidly grow throughout the economy.

Thirdly, I was interested in the relations between universities and companies, in the way in which these two often separated worlds interact, in the advantages and the disadvantages of these interactions. I was thus able to analyze the consequences of patenting public research inventions. I also studied the different modes of transfer and interaction between public research and industrial research. An important result of this research is that it is essential to contextualize the instruments that are used to ensure university-industry interactions.

Obtaining the Strasbourg University Foundation - Cercle Gutenberg 2015 prize was a real recognition for my research. It helped to give credibility to my research themes at local and national level. Personally, it gave me confidence in my research and forced me to be more ambitious.

Indicative list of recent publications


  • Guichardaz R., Pénin J. (2019), “Why was Schumpeter not more concerned with patents?”, Journal of Evolutionary Economics. 29(4), 1361-1369.
  •  Guichardaz R., Bach L., Pénin J. (2019), “Music industry intermediation in the digital era and the resilience of the major’s oligopoly: The role of transactional capabilities”, Industry & Innovation 26(7), 843-869.
  •  Ozel-Ocalan S., Pénin J. (2019), “Inventions Characteristics and the Degree of Exclusivity of University Licenses: The Case of Two Leading French Research Universities », Research Policy 48, 1445-1457.
  •  Giannopoulou E., Barlatier P.J., Pénin J. (2019), “Same but different? Research and technology organizations, universities and the innovation activities of firms”, Research Policy 48(1), 223-233.
  •  Xavier Seuba, Christophe Geiger, et Julien Pénin (eds), Intellectual Property and Digital Trade in the Age of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Global Perspectives for the Intellectual Property System, CEIPI-ICTSD, Issue Number 5, 2018.
  •  Schenk E., Guittard C., Pénin J. (2018), “Open or proprietary? Choosing the right crowdsourcing platform for innovation”, Technological Forecasting and Social Changes, doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2017.11.021.
  •  Ozel-Ocalan S., Pénin J., Schaeffer V. (2018), “The Complementarities Between Formal and Informal Channels of University-Industry Knowledge Transfer: A Longitudinal Approach”, The Journal of Technology Transfer, doi.org/10.1007/s10961-018-9674-4.
  •  Pénin J., Neicu D. (2018), “Patents and open innovation: Bad fences do not make good neighbors”, Journal of Innovation Economics and Management 25(1), 57-85.
  •  Le-Kim Marlène, Pénin J. (2017), « Appropriation under low intellectual property regimes: The role of communities in the online alternative adult entertainment industry », Management International 21(3), 69-77.
  •  Pénin J. (2013), « Are you open? An investigation of the concept of openness for knowledge and innovation », Revue économique 64, 133-148.
  • Pénin J., Burger-Helmchen T., Dintrich A., Guittard C., Schenk E. (2013), Innovation ouverte : Définition, pratiques et perspectives, collection Prospective et Entreprises, CCI Paris.
  •  Pénin J. (2012), « Strategic uses of patents in markets for technology: A story of fabless firms, brokers and trolls », Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 85, 633-641.
  •  Pénin J. (2011), « Open source innovation: Towards a generalization of the open source model beyond software », Revue d’Economie Industrielle 136 (4), 65-88.
  •  Pénin J. (2010), « On the consequences of patenting university research: Lessons from a survey of French academic inventors », Industry and Innovation 17 (5), 445-468.
  •  Pénin J. (2007), « Open knowledge disclosure: An overview of the empirical evidence and the economic motivations », Journal of Economic Surveys 21, 326-348
  •  Pénin J. (2005), « Patents versus ex-post rewards: A new look », Research Policy 34 (5), 641-656.