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Managing Knowledge Flows through Appropriation and Learning Strategies

  • Paul H. Jensen


    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

  • Elizabeth Webster


    (Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne)

In this paper, the management of outgoing and incoming knowledge is modelled as part of the firm’s profit-seeking strategy. Firms stem their outflow of commercially-sensitive knowledge through appropriation mechanisms such as patents and secrecy and stimulate inflows of commercially-valuable knowledge through networking, attending conferences and other forms of external interaction. It is probable, however, that some learning styles undermine some appropriation mechanisms. For instance, recent research on the “paradox of openness” highlights the conflict between firms’ openness and their ability to appropriate innovation profits. We use survey data from over 600 Australian firms to examine this paradox and other effects of firms’ management of knowledge flows such as the complementarity between patents and secrecy.

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Paper provided by Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne in its series Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series with number wp2006n06.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iae:iaewps:wp2006n06
Contact details of provider: Postal: Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia
Phone: +61 3 8344 2100
Fax: +61 3 8344 2111
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  1. Robin Cowan & Paul A. David & Dominique Foray, 1999. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Working Papers 99027, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  2. Harabi, Najib, 1994. "Appropriability of Technical Innovations: An Empirical Analysis," MPRA Paper 26267, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1988. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 862, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  4. Bruno Cassiman & Reinhilde Veugelers, 2002. "R&D Cooperation and Spillovers: Some Empirical Evidence from Belgium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1169-1184, September.
  5. Arora, Ashish, 1997. "Patents, licensing, and market structure in the chemical industry," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4-5), pages 391-403, December.
  6. Stefano Brusoni & Orietta Marsili & Ammon Salter, 2005. "The role of codified sources of knowledge in innovation: Empirical evidence from Dutch manufacturing," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 211-231, January.
  7. Cohendet, Patrick & Meyer-Krahmer, Frieder, 2001. "The theoretical and policy implications of knowledge codification," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1563-1591, December.
  8. Dosi, Giovanni, 1988. "Sources, Procedures, and Microeconomic Effects of Innovation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 1120-71, September.
  9. Arundel, Anthony, 2001. "The relative effectiveness of patents and secrecy for appropriation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 611-624, April.
  10. Veugelers, Reinhilde & Cassiman, Bruno, 1999. "Make and buy in innovation strategies: evidence from Belgian manufacturing firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 63-80, January.
  11. Bruce A. Heiman & Jack A. Nickerson, 2004. "Empirical evidence regarding the tension between knowledge sharing and knowledge expropriation in collaborations," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(6-7), pages 401-420.
  12. Elizabeth Webster & Paul H. Jensen, 2006. "Investment in Intangible Capital: An Enterprise Perspective," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 82(256), pages 82-96, 03.
  13. Lemley, Mark A. & Shapiro, Carl, 2004. "Probabilistic Patents," Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series qt9xf1488p, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  14. Cohen, Wesley M & Levinthal, Daniel A, 1989. "Innovation and Learning: The Two Faces of R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 99(397), pages 569-96, September.
  15. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1987. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial Research and Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 783-832.
  17. Wesley M. Cohen & Richard R. Nelson & John P. Walsh, 2000. "Protecting Their Intellectual Assets: Appropriability Conditions and Why U.S. Manufacturing Firms Patent (or Not)," NBER Working Papers 7552, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Saviotti, Pier Paolo, 1998. "On the dynamics of appropriability, of tacit and of codified knowledge," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(7-8), pages 843-856, April.
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