Protecting Knowledge Assets

Protecting Knowledge Assets

G. Scott Erickson (Ithaca College, USA) and Helen N. Rothberg (Marist College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch607

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Category: Organizational Aspects of Knowledge Management

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Protecting Knowledge Assets

Knowledge management (KM), as a field, is based on better identifying and then utilizing the knowledge assets of the organization. A vast trove of strategies and techniques exist for accomplishing all the related activities, which we won't review here, but these choices almost invariably involve distributing knowledge with few restrictions—the attitude can be expressed as the more access to the knowledge assets, the better. Ideally, all employees of the firm can get to knowledge pertaining to any problems or questions they might need addressed. And superior management of knowledge assets leads to competitive advantage (Gupta & Govindarajan, 2000)

Within the KM community, some concern has arisen about knowledge assets getting into unintended hands, a problem of “leakage”, but very little of the literature actually addresses the issue (Liebeskind, 1996, Zander & Kogut, 1995). Indeed, at times, the leakage of key knowledge is considered a good thing as it might set a technological standard in a given field. But worries about harmful knowledge leakage into competitors' hands are usually not top of mind in academia.

This is unfortunate, as practice in industry is increasingly toward aggressive actions to obtain competitive information and knowledge and toward consequent protection plans. Competitive intelligence (CI) as well as more legally and ethically questionable economic espionage efforts are both prominent and growing in the contemporary business world (Herzog, 2007). The Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) is the professional organization of those operating on the ethical side of things. Governmental recognition and scrutiny of the trends is clear from the passage of the Economic Espionage Act in 1996 and related enforcement activities of the Department of Justice since the Act’s passage (Cybercrime, 2008).

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