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Paper info: Knowledge Protection and Knowledge Sharing - Benefits and Problems in Networked Innovation


Knowledge Protection and Knowledge Sharing - Benefits and Problems in Networked Innovation


Pia Hurmelinna-Laukkanen and Anssi Tarkiainen

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 27th IMP-conference in Glasgow, Scotland in 2011.


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In prior research, it has been stated that the strength of protection that a firm has against
imitation of its core intangibles influences its performance. However, there are various
mechanisms through which this can happen, as the availability and use of barriers to imitation
offers quite different, even opposing, opportunities to utilize the intangibles belonging to an
individual organization. Especially the increasing tendencies to collaborate in innovation
activities have opened up new possibilities, although new challenges have also emerged as a
result of increasing networking.
This study examines especially knowledge sharing and protection as two elements
strongly present in networked innovation. The empirical evidence from 291 companies
suggests that the strong appropriability regime (i.e. “protective fence” improving
controllability of intangibles) contributes to both lengthening the imitation lag and facilitating
knowledge exchange between organizations. The findings further illustrate that of these two,
knowledge sharing is the one yielding better innovation performance, whereas imitation lags
contribute to firm success in terms of profitability and increased turnover. It can be thus
concluded that an integrative perspective, rather than simply choosing between two
(seemingly) opposing strategies enables a firm to perform better, especially in the networked
Keywords: innovation; networking; knowledge sharing; knowledge protection;