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Enabling collaborative innovation – knowledge protection for knowledge sharing

Pia Hurmelinna‐Laukkanen (University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Oulu, Finland)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 2 August 2011




Collaboration for research and development (R&D) and innovation among various organizations can be beneficial and in some cases even imperative, but in order to realise the potential, effective management is required. Effective innovation requires firms to share their core knowledge, and simultaneously make sure that they will not lose their core knowledge and future competitive advantage. In line with this, this study aims to clarify the role of knowledge protection in relation to collaborative innovation endeavours.


This study approaches the knowledge protection and knowledge sharing issues through a literature review and subsequent empirical analysis of 242 Finnish companies.


The results indicate that when a firm has put effort in getting strong protection at its disposal, sharing knowledge with varying partners is more likely, which, in turn, improves innovation performance of the firm. It is not just about the strength of protection, but also – and even more importantly – using it efficiently that counts.

Research limitations/implications

The data are collected from one country only, with its specific features, and thus further research might reveal more on the studied phenomenon. Also utilising more detailed measures might reveal more.

Practical implications

This study augments both theoretical and managerial perspectives as it discusses a variety of protection mechanisms. In particular, it offers managers a new way of approaching the means of knowledge protection for innovation‐related collaboration.


This study shows that a wide range of knowledge protection mechanisms can be relied on, and that strategic use of these mechanisms improves knowledge sharing and innovation performance.



Hurmelinna‐Laukkanen, P. (2011), "Enabling collaborative innovation – knowledge protection for knowledge sharing", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 303-321.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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