Intellectual Property Education in Business Schools: A Global Perspective

How do business schools equip budding entrepreneurs and business students with the IP skills needed for a global knowledge economy?

To gain a deeper understanding of how Intellectual Property (IP) is taught in business schools, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) collaborated with the Global Business School Network (GBSN) to survey educators across the network. The report, ā€œIntellectual Property Education in Business Schools: A Global Perspectiveā€, shares the findings from that research and recommendations for business schools and the broader innovation community. 

The research indicates that while most business schools do incorporate IP into their curriculum, thereā€™s room for enhancement. This highlights the need for increased collaboration between innovation ecosystem stakeholders such as IP authorities, businesses, and academic entities.

This research was based on a survey sent out to a worldwide sample of business schools, utilizing GBSNā€™s connections. Over 60 representatives from 35 business schools across more than 25 nations filled out the survey. Additionally, two in-depth workshops were held, with a total of 15 participants. Participants represented business degree programs (MBA & specialized masterā€™s), executive education programs, and centers within or affiliated to business schools (i.e., entrepreneurship centers, incubators, etc.).  

Intellectual Property (IP) Education in Business Schools

A Global Perspective

How do business schools equip budding entrepreneurs and business students with the IP skills needed for a global knowledge economy? To get a more informed view of the extent of IP education in business schools, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) undertook this study in collaboration with the Global Business School Network (GBSN). 

The study shows that IP is taught to some degree in the vast majority of business schools surveyed, but that more can be done, reinforcing the importance of collaboration among stakeholders of the innovation ecosystem including IP governing bodies, business and educational institutions.

Key Insights

The report is a first-of-its-kind look at the degree to which business schools globally incorporate intellectual property (IP) concepts into their business education programs. 

GBSN hopes it is a call for collaboration among stakeholders of the innovation ecosystem, and a catalyst for nurturing new educational experiences relevant to learners in different business programs. 

Most business programs incorporate IP into their curriculum.

89 percent of respondents to our survey said that one or more IP topics are incorporated into their curriculum. Few business schools, however, indicated that they have dedicated courses or course modules on the topic of IP.

The level of IP learning predominantly targets basic awareness of the topic

42 percent of respondents said their programs target a basic awareness of IP topics; while 34 percent said their program targets a general understanding of the implications of IP on business decisions (knowledge level); and 19 percent aim for a practical application level in which students are equipped to make decisions and take action on issues related to IP.

Several IP topics had broad relevance across different business programs

The top three most relevant topics that business schools currently teach or would like to teach were: the main forms of intellectual property (86 percent); ethical and social perspectives of intellectual property (80 percent); and tools and business strategies to protect intellectual property in the early stages of a business (72 percent).

Business schools feel constraints in achieving an optimal level of teaching of IP. 

Only 21 percent felt that there were no gaps in their curricula; while 47 percent indicated some gaps and 32 percent faced substantial gaps. Main constraints include lack of time, faculty expertise and materials appropriate to their country or region.

Despite these constraints, the subject of IP is increasingly relevant to business education. 

Workshop participants cited three broad factors: 

  1. Business schools are increasingly offering entrepreneurship programs that support start-ups and give students practical experience dealing with IP issues; 
  2. Shifts in the global economy towards technology and digitization are making IP issues and strategies increasingly important in a number of industry sectors; 
  3. A general increase in global awareness and attention to IP

Strategies for business schools to increase studentsā€™ exposure to IP

Workshop participants identified a number of strategies that could be implemented by business schools to increase studentsā€™ exposure to IP, including developing partnerships with local and regional innovation ecosystem stakeholders to give students more hands-on exposure.

What’s Next?

Interested in participating in follow-up engagements that help connect you with individuals at other business schools and within the broader innovation community? 

Register your interest so weā€™re sure to include you in the kinds of opportunities that will best leverage your knowledge and experience and serve your needs.