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An Examination of the Factors that Influence Whether Newcomers Protect or Share Secrets of their Former Employers


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  • David R. Hannah
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    This research investigated the factors that influence a decision that is often faced by employees who have made a transition from one organization to another: the decision about whether to protect secrets of their former employer or to share them with their new co-workers. A total of 111 employees from two high-tech companies participated in interviews. Their comments were analysed and, based on both relevant literature and the results of that analysis, a theory of the factors that influence newcomers' protect vs. share decisions was developed. According to that theory, newcomers first decide whether or not information is a trade secret of their former employer by considering (1) whether the information is part of their own knowledge, and (2) whether the information is publicly available, general, and negative (about something that did not work). If newcomers decide the information is a trade secret, they then evaluate (1) the degree to which their obligations are biased towards their former or new employer, and (2) the degree to which they identify more strongly with their former or new employer. Newcomers whose obligations and identifications are biased towards a new employer are more likely to share secrets. If these obligations and identifications are balanced, newcomers may share information in a way that allows them to believe they are fulfilling their responsibilities to both their former and their new employers. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2007.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Management Studies.

    Volume (Year): 44 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 4 (06)
    Pages: 465-487

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:44:y:2007:i:4:p:465-487

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    Cited by:
    1. Coulibaly, Mantiaba, 2010. "Protection de la propriété intellectuelle par le secret et diversité dans les organisations : vers une orientation au risque ?," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/5246, Paris Dauphine University.
    2. Hannah, David & Parent, Michael & Pitt, Leyland & Berthon, Pierre, 2014. "It's a secret: Marketing value and the denial of availability," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 49-59.
    3. Delerue, Hélène & Lejeune, Albert, 2011. "Managerial secrecy and intellectual asset protection in SMEs: The role of institutional environment," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 130-142, June.


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