Research Statement

Research statement – Talia Bar

I am a Micro and Industrial Organization economist. My research is focused on innovation economics and grading in higher education. Central themes in my research are (i) how firms select projects in different economic environments; (ii) Patent policy and firms’ intellectual property strategies; and (iii) information disclosure and assessment of quality. I have worked on these issues in the context of higher education, examining instructors’ grading practices and related university policies. More recently, I have begun research on certification and online reviews. Although I am primarily a theorist, I am also genuinely interested in applied economics and policy questions. I work on both theoretical and empirical research.

I have implemented a variety of research methods in my work. For example, I used dynamic games in my analysis of defensive publications in patent races (JEMS, 2006) and in a recent study of project choice among competing firms constrained in the number of projects on which they can work simultaneously (Atal, Bar and Gordon, GEB, 2016). Gordon and I used a mechanism design approach in analyzing project selection of a principal facing project managers who have private information about their project’s quality and who compete for funding (AEJ Micro, 2014).

The patent system is essential in protecting intellectual property and provides incentives for innovation and disclosure. I spend significant time reading law- and economics-related patent literature, I attend interdisciplinary conferences (e.g., at Northwestern University, Searle Center on Innovation Economics), and discuss my research with intellectual property professors and attorneys. With Atal, I have studied innovators’ incentives to search for prior art (IJIO, 2010), determinants of patent quality and a proposal to establish a two-tiered patent system (JIE, 2014). The ability of third parties to challenge patent validity is an important issue. With Kalinowski, I study litigation and settlements in patent disputes. Costello and I constructed a new dataset that we will use to study Inter Partes Reviews (America Invents Act, 2011), which enables third parties to challenge patent validity. I will continue to follow patent policy reforms with great interest and use economic methods to better understand the patent system and shed light on policy reforms and firm strategy.

My research on higher education is motivated by my passion for teaching, as well as my interest in information disclosure. With Kadiyali and Zussman, I studied the effects of provision of information on grades both theoretically (JOLE, 2012) and empirically (JEP, 2009). This work was repeatedly discussed in the university’s faculty senate meetings and in the media. In a number of new projects with Zheng, I look at grading and information disclosure in certification for food safety standards.

I value and enjoy research collaborations, brainstorming, and bringing together complementary skills and points of view. I have fostered collaborations with scholars in different departments (economics, management, law, policy analysis, and agriculture) and published articles with graduate students, peers, and distinguished professors. I have found new research coauthors at UConn and am eager to expand these collaborations.

A list is available on my CV. Published papers are linked in the publications page.