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Knowledge Protection in Firms: A Conceptual Framework and Evidence from HP Labs

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Karen ElliottORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This paper proposes a simple framework to examine organizational methods of knowledge protection.The framework highlights a basic trade-o¤ between improving decision-making and innovation throughcommunication and mitigating security risks by imposing restrictions on communication fl‡ows. Thetrade-o¤ is mediated by factors such as the sensitivity of information, the degree to which employeescan be trusted to handle sensitive information appropriately, and fi rms' ’investments in legal protec-tion mechanisms. Evidence from HP Labs supports the basic predictions of the model, in particularthe importance of employee trustworthiness and internalized codes of behaviour in promoting opencommunication. Our interviews also suggest a potential con‡flict between two of the most importantappropriability mechanisms: secrecy and lead-time advantage.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Elliott K, Patacconi A, Swierzbinski J, Williams J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Management Review

Year: 2019

Volume: 16

Issue: 1

Pages: 179-193

Online publication date: 05/12/2018

Acceptance date: 05/03/2018

Date deposited: 20/06/2018

ISSN (print): 1740-4754

ISSN (electronic): 1740-4762

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/emre.12336


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