James Bessen

Executive Director, Technology & Policy Research Initiative, School of Law at Boston University

James Bessen, an economist, serves as Executive Director of the Technology & Policy Research Initiative at the Boston University School of Law. Bessen has done research on the impacts of automation, how information technology has contributed to rising industry concentration, whether patents promote innovation, and how technology affects jobs, skills, and wages. With Michael J. Meurer, Bessen wrote Patent Failure (Princeton 2008), highlighting the problems caused by poorly defined property rights. His research first documented the large economic damage caused by patent trolls. His book, Learning by Doing: The Real Connection Between Innovation, Wages, and Wealth (Yale 2015), looks at history to understand how new technologies affect wages and skills today. Bessen’s work has been widely cited in the press as well as by the US White House and Supreme Court, the European Parliament, and the Federal Trade Commission. In 1983, Bessen developed the first commercially successful “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” PC publishing program, founding a company that delivered PC-based publishing systems to high-end commercial publishers.