Are intellectual property rights working for society?

Carolina Castaldi, Elisa Giuliani*, Margaret Kyle, Alessandro Nuvolari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialAcademicpeer-review


Intellectual property rights (IPRs) play a key role in increasingly intangible economies. At the same time IPR systems are facing a profound legitimacy crisis, as scholars have unveiled perverse mechanisms and strategic practices that can severely hinder their expected societal returns. In this introduction to the Special Issue, we provide an overview of the key debates and the recent evidence on the societal role of IPRs. After providing a brief introduction to IPRs and their specific societal function, we integrate insights from different disciplinary discourses into several key emerging themes. We highlight the progress made in recent research, but also flag urgent research gaps and directions to further expand the frontiers of scholarly and policy debates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104936
Number of pages7
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Creativity
  • Human rights
  • Innovation
  • Intellectual property rights (IPRs)
  • Social returns


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