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Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth? Geographic Concentration, Social Norms, and Knowledge Transfer

Geography, Location, and Strategy

ISBN: 978-1-78714-277-0, eISBN: 978-1-78714-276-3

Publication date: 19 April 2017

Abstract

A long tradition in social science research emphasizes the potential for knowledge to flow among firms colocated in dense areas. Scholars have suggested numerous modes for these flows, including the voluntary transfer of private knowledge from one firm to another. Why would the holder of valuable private knowledge willingly transfer it to a potential and closely proximate competitor? In this paper, we argue that geographic concentration has an effect on the expected compliance with norms governing the use of transferred knowledge. The increased expected compliance favors trust and initiates a process of reciprocal exchange. To test our theory, we use a scenario-based field experiment in gourmet cuisine, an industry in which property rights do not effectively protect knowledge and geographic concentration is common. Our results confirm our conjecture by showing that the expectation that a potential colocated firm will abide by norms mediates the relationship between geographic concentration and the willingness to transfer private knowledge.

Keywords

Citation

Stefano, G.D., King, A.A. and Verona, G. (2017), "Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth? Geographic Concentration, Social Norms, and Knowledge Transfer", Geography, Location, and Strategy (Advances in Strategic Management, Vol. 36), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 267-308. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0742-332220170000036008

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017 Emerald Publishing Limited