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Knowledge protection in firms : a conceptual framework and evidence from HP Labs.

Elliot, K. and Patacconi, A. and Swierzbinski, J. and Williams, J. (2019) 'Knowledge protection in firms : a conceptual framework and evidence from HP Labs.', European management review., 16 (1). pp. 179-193.


This paper proposes a simple framework to examine organizational methods of knowledge protection. The framework highlights a basic trade‐off between improving decision‐making and innovation through communication and mitigating security risks by imposing restrictions on communication flows. The trade‐off is mediated by factors such as the sensitivity of information, the degree to which employees can be trusted to handle sensitive information appropriately, and firms’ investments in legal protection mechanisms. Evidence from HP Labs supports the basic predictions of the model, in particular the importance of employee trustworthiness and internalized codes of behavior in promoting open communication. Our interviews also suggest a potential conflict between two of the most important appropriability mechanisms: secrecy and lead‐time advantage.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Elliot, K., Patacconi, A., Swierzbinski, J. & Williams, J. (2019). Knowledge protection in firms: A conceptual framework and evidence from HP Labs. European Management Review 16(1): 179-193, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:10 September 2018
Date deposited:20 September 2018
Date of first online publication:05 December 2018
Date first made open access:05 December 2020

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