Barbara Brandl

  • Barbara Brandl (Dipl. Soz.) is currently a visiting scholar in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology & Education at Pennsylvania State University. Before, she was employed as a research and teaching assistant in the Department of Sociology at the University of Munich (LMU). She is conducting her doctoral research in the field of the institutional embedding of seed systems in the U.S. and Germany.




    Social scientists have long recognized that knowledge is not conducive to capitalist accumulation because it is non-rival and non-excludable in its essence. However, nation-states tend to deem it worthwhile to create policies that treat knowledge as a commodity to provide adequate incentives for private companies to invest in scientific research. As a result, scientific knowledge may vary on a continuum from being completely non-commodified to completely commodified. The degree of commodification is determined by the institutional frameworks that enable or constrain the transformation of knowledge into a commodity, such as the design of intellectual property rights and the availability and criteria for public research funding. Because the U.S. and Germany are often recognized has having distinct political economies, we analyze their institutional frameworks to highlight the different approaches to managing agricultural knowledge. We document the impacts of the different approaches through an empirical analysis of trends in public research funding and trends in productivity of agricultural crops. The findings offer insights to inform policy makers of the potential impacts of efforts to promote innovation on the existing institutional frameworks.