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Initiating private-collective innovation: The fragility of knowledge sharing

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  • Gächter, Simon
  • von Krogh, Georg
  • Haefliger, Stefan

Abstract

Incentives to innovate are a central element of innovation theory. In the private-investment model, innovators privately fund innovation and then use intellectual property protection mechanisms to appropriate returns from these investments. In the collective-action model, public subsidy funds public goods innovations, characterized by non-rivalry and non-exclusivity in using these innovations. Recently, these models have been compounded in the private-collective innovation model where innovators privately fund public goods innovations. Private-collective innovation is illustrated in the case of open source software development. This paper contributes to the work on this model by investigating incentives that motivate innovators to share their knowledge in an initial situation, before there is a community to support the innovation process. We use game theory to predict knowledge sharing behavior in private-collective innovation, and test these predictions in a laboratory setting. The results show that knowledge sharing is a coordination game with multiple equilibria, reflecting the fragility of knowledge sharing between innovators with conflicting interests. The experimental results demonstrate important asymmetries in the fragility of knowledge sharing and, in some situations, more knowledge sharing than theoretically predicted. A behavioral analysis suggests that knowledge sharing in private-collective innovation is not only affected by material incentives, but also by social preferences such as fairness. The results offer general insights into the relationship between incentives and knowledge sharing and contribute to a better understanding of the initiation of private-collective innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Gächter, Simon & von Krogh, Georg & Haefliger, Stefan, 2010. "Initiating private-collective innovation: The fragility of knowledge sharing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 893-906, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:39:y:2010:i:7:p:893-906
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    Cited by:

    1. Ganglmair, Bernhard & Holcomb, Alex & Myung, Noah, 2016. "Cutthroats or comrades: Information sharing among competing fund managers," MPRA Paper 71506, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Helbach, Christoph & Keldenich, Klemens & Rothgang, Michael & Yang, Guanzhong, 2012. "Call Me if You Can – An Experimental Investigation of Information Sharing in Knowledge Networks," Ruhr Economic Papers 332, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    3. Lakka, Spyridoula & Stamati, Teta & Michalakelis, Christos & Anagnostopoulos, Dimosthenis, 2015. "Cross-national analysis of the relation of eGovernment maturity and OSS growth," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 132-147.
    4. Haeussler, Carolin & Jiang, Lin & Thursby, Jerry & Thursby, Marie, 2014. "Specific and general information sharing among competing academic researchers," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 465-475.
    5. repec:eee:ecanpo:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:96-104 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Tom Dedeurwaerdere & Paolo Melindi-Ghidi & Willem Sas, 2015. "Voluntary Provision of Public Knowledge Goods: Group-Based Social Preferences and Coalition Formation," AMSE Working Papers 1545, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 03 Nov 2015.
    7. Bruno S. Frey & Roger Lüthi & Margit Osterloh, 2011. "Community Enterprises - Aliens under Attack," CREMA Working Paper Series 2011-08, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    8. repec:zbw:rwirep:0332 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Rullani, Francesco & Haefliger, Stefan, 2013. "The periphery on stage: The intra-organizational dynamics in online communities of creation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 941-953.
    10. Christoph Helbach & Klemens Keldenich & Michael Rothgang & Guanzhong Yang, 2012. "Call Me if You Can – An Experimental Investigation of Information Sharing in Knowledge Networks," Ruhr Economic Papers 0332, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    11. Potts, Jason, 2016. "The New Economics of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Institutions: Considerations for Australian Agriculture," 2016 Conference (60th), February 2-5, 2016, Canberra, Australia 235504, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    12. Nasr, Eman S. & Kilgour, Marc D. & Noori, Hamid, 2015. "Strategizing niceness in co-opetition: The case of knowledge exchange in supply chain innovation projects," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 244(3), pages 845-854.

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