Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

The disaggregated technology production function: A new model of university and corporate research



Gregory C. Tassey


Technology and the process that produces it, research and development (R&D), are typically characterized as homogeneous entities. In reality, the typical industrial technology is composed of three elements: a generic technology base, supporting infratechnologies, and proprietary market applications (innovations). The first two have public good characteristics, and therefore, explicitly modeling them is essential for public policy purposes. The fundamental relationships among these elements require a technology production function that captures the supporting roles of the public good elements in creating proprietary applied technology. These critical quasi-public technology goods are supplied to a significant extent by exogenous (external) sources: central corporate research labs, government labs, and increasingly, universities. The expanding university role beyond basic research complicates the structure and functioning of the national R&D establishment and increases the need for a more accurate model of technological change to better inform R&D policy. Moreover, in assessing the resulting applied technology’s impact on economic growth, both the general and partial equilibrium literatures enter the technology variable into a production function with the common “production” assets (physical capital and labor). Such models obscure an important distinction between technology and these production assets—namely, the fact that technology is primarily a “demand-shifting” asset. As such, its role is correctly specified only when combined with the other major demand-shifting asset, marketing. Allocations to these two assets vary across competing firms implying a spatial model of competition, while still providing traceability to the exogenous sources of public good technology elements, such as universities.
Research Policy


public good technologies, research and development, R&D, investment risk, market failure, knowledge production function


Tassey, G. (2005), The disaggregated technology production function: A new model of university and corporate research, Research Policy, [online], (Accessed March 1, 2024)
Created March 23, 2005, Updated February 19, 2017