Regulating the Academic “Marketplace of Ideas”: Commercialization, Export Controls, and Counterintelligence

  • John Krige Georgia Institute of Technology
Keywords: national security state, deemed exports, FBI, academic research, knowledge circulation


Two revolutions, not one, are transforming the research enterprise in American academia. One is the commercialization of research. The other is the regulation of research by the national security state that was accelerated by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and focuses increasingly on the risk of sensitive knowledge leaking to China and other countries of concern.   Commercialization temporarily restricts knowledge circulation to secure a patent for personal and institutional gain. Regulation controls the flow of knowledge to select foreign nationals using multiple instruments, including export controls, along with informal surveillance by the FBI.   Ironically, the neoliberal urge to roll back the state and commercialize research in a competitive global knowledge economy exposes the American academic research system to the risk of “industrial” espionage and rolls out the regulatory apparatus of the national security state.  Alongside offices of technology transfer on campus we now have offices of export control and compliance. Faculty and graduate students have accommodated themselves to this new situation, even while they regret it; many are concerned by the challenge that it poses to academic freedom, intellectual dynamism and political openness.

Author Biography

John Krige, Georgia Institute of Technology
Kranzberg Professor, School of History, Technology and Society
09 Nov 2015
Research Articles