IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/inm/ororsc/v27y2016i2p265-285.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

How to Share “A Really Good Secret”: Managing Sharing/Secrecy Tensions Around Scientific Knowledge Disclosure

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew J. Nelson

    (Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403)

Abstract

The diffusion of scientific knowledge is critical for innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth. Yet scientists face a fundamental dilemma when it comes to sharing such knowledge: sharing can simultaneously advance and challenge both academic and commercial interests. Although several studies explore the different reasons that scientists may or may not share, along with their overall propensity to do so, we have much less insight into how researchers who confront sharing/secrecy tensions attempt to manage them. In turn, our understanding of the ways in which scientists enable cumulative innovation through sharing, even as they attend to their private interests, remains limited. Based on qualitative analysis of 46 interviews and 58 oral histories with researchers in biotechnology and digital audio, I identify 4 tactics that researchers use to manage sharing/secrecy tensions—leveraging trust, strategic withholding, delaying, and patenting—and I analyze how the use of these tactics is tied to particular sharing practices, organizational environments (e.g., universities versus firms), and scientific fields. I then theorize how these tactics address different dimensions of sharing/secrecy tensions, working together as part of an integrated repertoire. Finally, I tie my findings to broader considerations around sharing, including managerial and policy initiatives aimed at promoting cumulative innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew J. Nelson, 2016. "How to Share “A Really Good Secret”: Managing Sharing/Secrecy Tensions Around Scientific Knowledge Disclosure," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 27(2), pages 265-285, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:27:y:2016:i:2:p:265-285
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.2015.1040
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc.2015.1040
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://libkey.io/10.1287/orsc.2015.1040?utm_source=ideas
    LibKey link: if access is restricted and if your library uses this service, LibKey will redirect you to where you can use your library subscription to access this item
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Heidi L. Williams, 2013. "Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation: Evidence from the Human Genome," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 121(1), pages 1-27.
    2. Nelson, Andrew J., 2012. "Putting university research in context: Assessing alternative measures of production and diffusion at Stanford," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 678-691.
    3. Rebecca Henderson & Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg, 1998. "Universities As A Source Of Commercial Technology: A Detailed Analysis Of University Patenting, 1965-1988," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 80(1), pages 119-127, February.
    4. John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid, 2001. "Knowledge and Organization: A Social-Practice Perspective," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(2), pages 198-213, April.
    5. Fiona Murray & Siobhán O'Mahony, 2007. "Exploring the Foundations of Cumulative Innovation: Implications for Organization Science," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(6), pages 1006-1021, December.
    6. Jeffrey L. Furman & Scott Stern, 2011. "Climbing atop the Shoulders of Giants: The Impact of Institutions on Cumulative Research," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1933-1963, August.
    7. Bronwyn Hall & Christian Helmers & Mark Rogers & Vania Sena, 2014. "The Choice between Formal and Informal Intellectual Property: A Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(2), pages 375-423, June.
    8. Scott D. N. Cook & John Seely Brown, 1999. "Bridging Epistemologies: The Generative Dance Between Organizational Knowledge and Organizational Knowing," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 10(4), pages 381-400, August.
    9. Hicks, Diana, 1995. "Published Papers, Tacit Competencies and Corporate Management of the Public/Private Character of Knowledge," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 4(2), pages 401-424.
    10. Cockburn, Iain M & Henderson, Rebecca M, 1998. "Absorptive Capacity, Coauthoring Behavior, and the Organization of Research in Drug Discovery," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 46(2), pages 157-182, June.
    11. K. J. Arrow, 1971. "The Economic Implications of Learning by Doing," Palgrave Macmillan Books, in: F. H. Hahn (ed.), Readings in the Theory of Growth, chapter 11, pages 131-149, Palgrave Macmillan.
    12. Zucker, Lynne G & Darby, Michael R & Armstrong, Jeff, 1998. "Geographically Localized Knowledge: Spillovers or Markets?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(1), pages 65-86, January.
    13. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2003. "Links and Impacts: The Influence of Public Research on Industrial R&D," Chapters, in: Aldo Geuna & Ammon J. Salter & W. Edward Steinmueller (ed.), Science and Innovation, chapter 4, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    14. Murray, Fiona & Stern, Scott, 2007. "Do formal intellectual property rights hinder the free flow of scientific knowledge?: An empirical test of the anti-commons hypothesis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 648-687, August.
    15. Fiona E. Murray & Scott Stern, 2007. "Do Formal Intellectual Property Rights Hinder the Free Flow of Scientific Knowledge?: An Empirical Test of the Anti-Commons Hypothesis," NBER Chapters, in: Academic Science and Entrepreneurship: Dual Engines of Growth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Geroski, P. A., 2000. "Models of technology diffusion," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4-5), pages 603-625, April.
    17. Walsh, John P. & Cohen, Wesley M. & Cho, Charlene, 2007. "Where excludability matters: Material versus intellectual property in academic biomedical research," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(8), pages 1184-1203, October.
    18. Jerry G. Thursby & Marie C. Thursby, 2002. "Who Is Selling the Ivory Tower? Sources of Growth in University Licensing," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 90-104, January.
    19. Campbell, Eric G. & Weissman, Joel S. & Causino, Nancyanne & Blumenthal, David, 2000. "Data withholding in academic medicine: characteristics of faculty denied access to research results and biomaterials," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 303-312, February.
    20. Owen-Smith, Jason, 2003. "From separate systems to a hybrid order: accumulative advantage across public and private science at Research One universities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1081-1104, June.
    21. Paula Stephan & Shiferaw Gurmu & Albert Sumell & Grant Black, 2007. "Who'S Patenting In The University? Evidence From The Survey Of Doctorate Recipients," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(2), pages 71-99.
    22. Henry Sauermann & Paula Stephan, 2013. "Conflicting Logics? A Multidimensional View of Industrial and Academic Science," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(3), pages 889-909, June.
    23. Scott Stern, 2004. "Do Scientists Pay to Be Scientists?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(6), pages 835-853, June.
    24. Cowan, Robin & David, Paul A & Foray, Dominique, 2000. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 211-253, June.
    25. Rudi Bekkers & Bodas Freitas, 2008. "Analysing preferences for knowledge transfer channels between universities and industry: To what degree do sectors also matter?," Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) hal-01487467, HAL.
    26. Sarah Kaplan, 2011. "Strategy and PowerPoint: An Inquiry into the Epistemic Culture and Machinery of Strategy Making," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(2), pages 320-346, April.
    27. Bekkers, Rudi & Bodas Freitas, Isabel Maria, 2008. "Analysing knowledge transfer channels between universities and industry: To what degree do sectors also matter?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(10), pages 1837-1853, December.
    28. Pierre Azoulay & Waverly Ding & Toby Stuart, 2009. "The Impact Of Academic Patenting On The Rate, Quality And Direction Of (Public) Research Output," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(4), pages 637-676, December.
    29. Emmanuelle Fauchart & Eric von Hippel, 2008. "Norms-Based Intellectual Property Systems: The Case of French Chefs," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 19(2), pages 187-201, April.
    30. Wright, Mike & Clarysse, Bart & Lockett, Andy & Knockaert, Mirjam, 2008. "Mid-range universities' linkages with industry: Knowledge types and the role of intermediaries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 1205-1223, September.
    31. Ajay Agrawal & Rebecca Henderson, 2002. "Putting Patents in Context: Exploring Knowledge Transfer from MIT," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 48(1), pages 44-60, January.
    32. Thursby, Jerry G & Thursby, Marie C, 2003. "Industry/University Licensing: Characteristics, Concerns and Issues from the Perspective of the Buyer," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 28(3-4), pages 207-213, August.
    33. Daniel Z. Levin & Rob Cross, 2004. "The Strength of Weak Ties You Can Trust: The Mediating Role of Trust in Effective Knowledge Transfer," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(11), pages 1477-1490, November.
    34. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Christopher S. Hayter & Andrew J. Nelson & Stephanie Zayed & Alan C. O’Connor, 2018. "Conceptualizing academic entrepreneurship ecosystems: a review, analysis and extension of the literature," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 43(4), pages 1039-1082, August.
    2. Isabelle Walsh & Amitabh Anand, 2018. "Sharing Research with Pleasure (ShaRP) and Sharing Knowledge Forward (SKF) to Peers – A SKEMA1 Initiative," Post-Print halshs-02284059, HAL.
    3. Peris-Ortiz, Marta & Ferreira, João J.M. & Fernandes, Cristina I., 2018. "Do Total Early-stage Entrepreneurial Activities (TEAs) foster innovative practices in OECD countries?," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 129(C), pages 176-184.
    4. Anu Wadhwa & Isabel Maria Bodas Freitas & M. B. Sarkar, 2017. "The Paradox of Openness and Value Protection Strategies: Effect of Extramural R&D on Innovative Performance," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 28(5), pages 873-896, October.
    5. Shibayama, Sotaro & Lawson, Cornelia, 2021. "The use of rewards in the sharing of research resources," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(7).
    6. Loberg, Linda & Nüesch, Stephan & Foege, Johann Nils, 2021. "Forced distribution rating systems and team collaboration," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 188(C), pages 18-35.
    7. Schaeffer, Véronique, 2019. "The use of material transfer agreements in academia: A threat to open science or a cooperation tool?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(9), pages 1-1.
    8. Callen Anthony & Andrew J. Nelson & Mary Tripsas, 2016. "“Who Are You?…I Really Wanna Know”: Product Meaning and Competitive Positioning in the Nascent Synthesizer Industry," Strategy Science, INFORMS, vol. 1(3), pages 163-183, September.
    9. Jeffrey L. Furman & Florenta Teodoridis, 2020. "Automation, Research Technology, and Researchers’ Trajectories: Evidence from Computer Science and Electrical Engineering," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 31(2), pages 330-354, March.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Foray, Dominique & Lissoni, Francesco, 2010. "University Research and Public–Private Interaction," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 275-314, Elsevier.
    2. Fengqing Zhang & Erjia Yan & Xin Niu & Yongjun Zhu, 2018. "Joint modeling of the association between NIH funding and its three primary outcomes: patents, publications, and citation impact," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 117(1), pages 591-602, October.
    3. Michaël Bikard & Keyvan Vakili & Florenta Teodoridis, 2019. "When Collaboration Bridges Institutions: The Impact of University–Industry Collaboration on Academic Productivity," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 30(2), pages 426-445, March.
    4. Pluvia Zuniga, 2011. "The State of Patenting at Research Institutions in Developing Countries: Policy Approaches and Practices," WIPO Economic Research Working Papers 04, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division, revised Dec 2011.
    5. Larsen, Maria Theresa, 2011. "The implications of academic enterprise for public science: An overview of the empirical evidence," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 6-19, February.
    6. Abramo, Giovanni & D'Angelo, Ciriaco Andrea & Di Costa, Flavia, 2021. "The scholarly impact of private sector research: A multivariate analysis," Journal of Informetrics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3).
    7. Véronique Schaeffer & Sıla Öcalan-Özel & Julien Pénin, 2020. "The complementarities between formal and informal channels of university–industry knowledge transfer: a longitudinal approach," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 31-55, February.
    8. Giovanni Abramo & Ciriaco Andrea D'Angelo & Flavia Di Costa, 2020. "The relative impact of private research on scientific advancement," Papers 2012.04908, arXiv.org.
    9. Walsh, John P. & Huang, Hsini, 2014. "Local context, academic entrepreneurship and open science: Publication secrecy and commercial activity among Japanese and US scientists," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 245-260.
    10. Gans, Joshua S. & Murray, Fiona E. & Stern, Scott, 2017. "Contracting over the disclosure of scientific knowledge: Intellectual property and academic publication," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(4), pages 820-835.
    11. Cowan, Robin & Zinovyeva, Natalia, 2013. "University effects on regional innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(3), pages 788-800.
    12. Elisa Alvarez-Garrido & Gary Dushnitsky, 2016. "Are entrepreneurial venture's innovation rates sensitive to investor complementary assets? Comparing biotech ventures backed by corporate and independent VCs," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 37(5), pages 819-834, May.
    13. Denisa Mindruta, 2013. "Value creation in university-firm research collaborations: A matching approach," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(6), pages 644-665, June.
    14. Xia Fan & Xiaowan Yang & Zhou Yu, 2021. "Effect of basic research and applied research on the universities’ innovation capabilities: the moderating role of private research funding," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 126(7), pages 5387-5411, July.
    15. Ani Gerbin & Mateja Drnovsek, 2016. "Determinants and public policy implications of academic-industry knowledge transfer in life sciences: a review and a conceptual framework," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 41(5), pages 979-1076, October.
    16. Stephan, Paula E., 2010. "The Economics of Science," Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, in: Bronwyn H. Hall & Nathan Rosenberg (ed.), Handbook of the Economics of Innovation, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 0, pages 217-273, Elsevier.
    17. Blandinieres, Florence & Pellens, Maikel, 2021. "Scientist's industry engagement and the research agenda: Evidence from Germany," ZEW Discussion Papers 21-001, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    18. Boudreau, Kevin J. & Lakhani, Karim R., 2015. "“Open” disclosure of innovations, incentives and follow-on reuse: Theory on processes of cumulative innovation and a field experiment in computational biology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 4-19.
    19. repec:wip:wpaper:4 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Michael Roach & Wesley M. Cohen, 2012. "Lens or Prism? Patent Citations as a Measure of Knowledge Flows from Public Research," NBER Working Papers 18292, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Magerman, Tom & Looy, Bart Van & Debackere, Koenraad, 2015. "Does involvement in patenting jeopardize one’s academic footprint? An analysis of patent-paper pairs in biotechnology," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(9), pages 1702-1713.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:27:y:2016:i:2:p:265-285. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/inforea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Matthew Walls (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/inforea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.