Recognizing Knowledge Leakage and Knowledge Spillover and Their Consequences

Recognizing Knowledge Leakage and Knowledge Spillover and Their Consequences

Helio Aisenberg Ferenhof (Universidade Federal de Sanata Catarina and Complexo de Ensino Superior de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJKSS.2016070104


This paper, is interested in reviewing the literature on knowledge leakage and spillover together in order to understand their existence on organizations, establish the current body of knowledge and, on this basis, suggest some promising avenues for future research. The study consists of a systematic review of peer-reviewed articles addressing knowledge leakage and spillover in organizations. As result a better understanding of the differences and similarity as well as challenges and opportunities of knowledge leakage and knowledge spillover that could assist practitioners to better cope with risks when developing innovation is shown in a conceptual model. From an academic perspective, the paper may provide a starting point for new researches that are interested in knowledge at risk.
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1. Introduction

The work of Durst, Aggestam, and Ferenhof (2015) presents a literature review on knowledge leakage. It underlines that organizations should establish strategies to enable better knowledge management actions to compensate for the negative effects of knowledge leakage and improve the chances of the positive ones. Given the relevance of the topic, this paper is interested in going further in understanding the existence of knowledge leakage and knowledge spillover in organizations. The former is divided by Durst and Ferenhof (2014) into knowledge and capability shortages, and knowledge exposure. The former refers mainly to turnover, whereas the latter occurs in situations when organizations enter into strategic alliances, outsource parts of their business functions, or where parts of its core knowledge are shared with others. On the other hand, knowledge spillover as stated by Albornoz et al. (2009), refers to knowledge overflows, which can support innovation and contribute to productivity growth and/or competitiveness. This may happen when companies transfer knowledge that encompasses both technology and know-how of foreign affiliates by some kind of leaks and which is absorbed by those firms. According to Jost and van der Velden (2008), knowledge leakage and knowledge spillover are related and can have both positive and negative impacts on organizations, depending on the way they occur and the quality of the exchange.

In the era of innovation, many companies regardless of size are being pushed to outsource, make joint ventures, transfer knowledge to other business partners, or develop new businesses or additional companies (Jost & van der Velden, 2008). Taking a holistic perspective of knowledge—seeing knowledge as both as an asset and a liability—the purpose of this paper is to review extant empirical research on both knowledge leakage and knowledge spillover in organizations to establish our current body of knowledge. According to Jost and van der Velden (2008), only small levels of spillover must exist in industries because spillovers may reduce the positive profit effect arising from competition. Supporting that line of thought, Czarnitzki and Kraft (2012) highlighted that incoming knowledge spillover is expected to have a positive impact on firms Conversely, knowledge spillover going out to rivals will most likely have a negative effect on the originating company. Against this backdrop, the present article´s aim highlights the importance of having a better understanding of knowledge spillover and knowledge leakage. The author believes that both theory and corporate practice will gain a better understanding and ultimately benefit from it.

As already stressed by Durst et al. (2015), there is a need for more studies on knowledge leakage, and this paper intends to assist in this issue.

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