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Journal cover: European Journal of Innovation Management

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Online from: 1998

Subject Area: Enterprise and Innovation

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The open innovation paradox: knowledge sharing and protection in R&D collaborations

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Title:The open innovation paradox: knowledge sharing and protection in R&D collaborations
Author(s):Marcel Bogers, (Mads Clausen Institute for Product Innovation, SPIRE Research Center, University of Southern Denmark, Sønderborg, Denmark)
Citation:Marcel Bogers, (2011) "The open innovation paradox: knowledge sharing and protection in R&D collaborations", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 14 Iss: 1, pp.93 - 117
Keywords:Governance, Intellectual property, Licensing, Strategic alliances
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/14601061111104715 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The author would like to thank Rudi Bekkers, Ove Granstrand and Charmianne Lemmens for their extensive advice and suggestions as well as the managers/interviewees who provided invaluable insights into the various companies and collaborations.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the paradox that arises when firms simultaneously share and protect their knowledge in an alliance with other organizations. The goal of this paper therefore is to explore this tension field in such a coupled open innovation process and to identify which strategies can be developed to cope with this tension.

Design/methodology/approach – The study was initially guided by a literature review and exploratory interviews, and it ultimately develops an inductive framework based on a multiple case study approach. The paper presents eight cases of a focal firm involved in a particular R&D collaboration. The case studies are based on a variety of data sources, including a number of semi-structured interviews.

Findings – This paper unravels the tension field of knowledge sharing and protection in R&D collaborations, with the knowledge characteristics at the core and with the knowledge embodiment and relational dimension as mediating factors. These forces are in turn influenced by the collaboration characteristics and environment. Moreover, the case studies show different ways to cope with the tension between knowledge sharing and protection, such as an open knowledge exchange strategy and a layered collaboration scheme with inner and outer members. Licensing is moreover presented as a concrete way to implement such coping strategies.

Originality/value – This paper provides an holistic perspective on the knowledge paradox in R&D collaborations as a coupled process of open innovation. Moreover, it describes two concrete strategies to cope with the tension field as well as the role and implications of licensing as a particular mechanism to overcome the open innovation paradox.

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