Mythologizing the Story of a Scientific Invention: Constructing the legitimacy of research commercialization

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This paper explores the processes through which an organizational story acquires mythological status within an organizational field. To this end, I analyse a story of a successful case of academic technology transfer that gained mythological status in the field of higher education in Israel: the commercialization of the innovative pharmaceutical drug Copaxone. I identify three concurrent processes of mythologizing work: organizational storytelling, media diffusion and reconstruction, and field-level retelling and countering. I argue that myth-making is a collective work, in which an organizational story is shaped not only through the strategic rhetorical work of managers but also through interpretations and modifications by the media as well as other actors in the field. The myth of Copaxone, as it is currently told in the field of higher education in Israel, is a complex assemblage of the organizational story and various counter-narratives. I further suggest that this myth not only serves to naturalize and reinforce academic patenting, but also constitutes a discursive space for reflections about the ambiguities inherent in academic commercialization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-820
Number of pages22
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • higher education
  • myth
  • narratives
  • technology transfer
  • universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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