Besides applying knowledge in own products and services, firms increasingly exploit their knowledge assets externally, e.g. by means of licensing out technology. The aim of this paper is to help firms achieve strategic fit in the keep‐or‐sell issue, which results from potential external knowledge exploitation.
The keep‐or‐sell decision refers to the issue whether to commercialize knowledge assets externally in addition to exploiting them inside the organization. Because of the high opportunities and risks of externally leveraging knowledge, the keep‐or‐sell decision constitutes a major area of conflict between strategies at different levels, particularly knowledge vs product strategies, corporate vs business unit strategies and R&D vs marketing strategies. After detailing the keep‐or‐sell decision, the paper conceptually explores how firms may respond to potential conflicts in the keep‐or‐sell decision by achieving strategic fit.
The paper identifies, in particular, three major characteristics of a firm's strategic approach, i.e. coordination, centralization, and collaboration, which may help firms achieve strategic fit in the keep‐or‐sell issue.
The keep‐or‐sell decision is a unique arena for studying hierarchical strategies and strategic fit. As a result, this paper has major implications for research into strategic fit, hierarchical strategies, knowledge management and open innovation. Achieving fit across a firm's different strategies in the keep‐or‐sell issue is essential for firm performance in a knowledge‐based economy.
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