When sharing becomes a liability: An intellectual capital approach to describing the dichotomy of knowledge protection versus sharing in intra- and interorganizational relationships

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Title: When sharing becomes a liability: An intellectual capital approach to describing the dichotomy of knowledge protection versus sharing in intra- and interorganizational relationships
Author: Solitander, Maria
Contributor: Hanken School of Economics, Department of Management and Organisation, Entrepreneurship and Management
Thesis level: Doctoral thesis
Belongs to series: Economics and Society - 225
ISSN: 0424-7256
ISBN: 978-952-232-118-3
Abstract: The tension created when companies are collaborating with competitors – sometimes termed co-opetition - has been subject of research within the network approach. As companies are collaborating with competitors, they need to simultaneously share and protect knowledge. The opportunistic behavior and learning intent of the partner may be underestimated, and collaboration may involve significant risks of loss of competitive edge. Contrastingly, the central tenet within the Intellectual Capital approach is that knowledge grows as it flows. The person sharing does not lose the knowledge and therefore knowledge has doubled from a company’s point of view. Value is created through the interplay of knowledge flows between and within three forms of intellectual capital: human, structural and relational capital. These are the points of departure for the research conducted in this thesis. The thesis investigates the tension between collaboration and competition through an Intellectual Capital lens, by identifying the actions taken to share and protect knowledge in interorganizational collaborative relationships. More specifically, it explores the tension in knowledge flows aimed at protecting and sharing knowledge, and their effect on the value creation of a company. It is assumed, that as two companies work closely together, the collaborative relationship becomes intertwined between the two partners and the intellectual capital flows of both companies are affected. The research finds that companies commonly protect knowledge also in close and long-term collaborative relationships. The knowledge flows identified are both collaborative and protective, with the result that they sometimes are counteracting and neutralize each other. The thesis contributes to the intellectual capital approach by expanding the understanding of knowledge protection in interorganizational relationships in three ways. First, departing from the research on co-opetition it shifts the focus from the internal view of the company as a repository of intellectual capital onto the collaborative relationships between competing companies. Second, instead of the traditional collaborative and sharing point of departure, it takes a competitive and protective perspective. Third, it identifies the intellectual capital flows as assets or liabilities depending on their effect on the value creation of the company. The actions taken to protect knowledge in an interorganizational relationship may decrease the value created in the company, which would make them liabilities.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10227/812
Date: 2011-03-01
Subject: intellectual capital
knowledge protection
knowledge sharing
intellectual assets
intellectual liabilities
interorganizational relationships
Rights: This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for Your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.

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