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Journal of International Business Studies

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 250–260 | Cite as

Unintentional, unavoidable, and beneficial knowledge leakage from the multinational enterprise

  • Andrew InkpenEmail author
  • Dana Minbaeva
  • Eric W K Tsang
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Abstract

Knowledge leakage as an undesirable outcome for MNEs is an accepted view in IB literature. We challenge this view and argue that knowledge leakage is often unintentional, unavoidable, and beneficial for the MNE. In a highly networked and information-rich society, knowledge leakage from MNEs (1) happens naturally due to interfirm relationships, interactions, and socialization, (2) is unavoidable due to employee mobility, and (3) facilitates knowledge inflows due to the reciprocity nature of knowledge exchange and hence is beneficial for MNEs. In addition, the costs of protecting knowledge incurred by an MNE will often outweigh the benefits.

Keywords

knowledge leakage knowledge protection reciprocity 

Resume

La fuite de connaissances, en tant que résultat indésirable pour les entreprises multinationales, est un point de vue accepté dans la littérature de l’international business. Nous contestons ce point de vue et considérons que les fuites de connaissances sont souvent involontaires, inévitables et bénéfiques pour les entreprises multinationales. Dans une société très réticulaire et riche en informations, les fuites de connaissances des entreprises multinationales (1) se produisent naturellement en raison des relations, des interactions et de la socialisation entre entreprises, (2) sont inévitables en raison de la mobilité des employés et (3) facilitent les flux de connaissances en raison de la nature réciproque de l’échange de connaissances et, par conséquent, sont bénéfiques pour les entreprises multinationales. En outre, les coûts de protection des connaissances supportés par une entreprise multinationale l’emportent souvent sur les avantages.

Resumen

La filtración de conocimiento como un resultado indeseable para las empresas multinacionales es un punto de vista aceptado en la literatura de negocios internacionales. Retamos este punto de vista y argumentamos que la filtración de conocimiento es con frecuencia no deliberada, inevitable y beneficiosa para la empresa multinacional. En una sociedad altamente interconectad y rica en información, la filtración de conocimiento de las empresas multinacionales (1) ocurre naturalmente debido a relaciones entre las empresas, interacciones y socialización, (2) es inevitable debido a la movilidad de empleados, y (3) facilita los flujos de conocimiento debido a la naturaleza de reciprocidad del intercambio de conocimiento, y, por ende, es beneficioso para las empresas multinacionales. Además, los costos de proteger el conocimiento incurridos por una empresa multinacional con frecuencia superarán los beneficios.

Resumo

O vazamento de conhecimento como um resultado indesejável para as MNEs é uma visão aceita na literatura de IB. Nós desafiamos essa visão e argumentamos que o vazamento de conhecimento é muitas vezes não intencional, inevitável e benéfico para a MNE. Em uma sociedade altamente conectada e rica em informação, o vazamento de conhecimento de MNEs (1) acontece naturalmente devido a relações, interações e socialização entre empresas, (2) é inevitável devido à mobilidade de funcionários, e (3) facilita o fluxo para dentro de conhecimento devido à natureza de reciprocidade da troca de conhecimento e, portanto, é benéfico para as MNEs. Além disso, os custos de proteção do conhecimento incorridos por uma MNE geralmente superam os benefícios.

摘要

知识泄漏是跨国公司不希望的结果, 这是IB文献中的一个公认观点。我们质疑这一观点, 认为对跨国公司来说知识泄露往往是无意的, 不可避免的, 且是有益的。在高度网络化和信息丰富的社会, 跨国公司的知识泄露(1)自然发生这是因为企业间的关系, 互动和社会化; (2)是由于员工的流动性而不可避免; (3)由于知识交换的互惠性而促进知识流入, 因此对跨国企业有益。另外, 保护跨国公司知识的成本往往会超过收益。

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Wolfgang Sofka for helpful comments on the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Academy of International Business 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Inkpen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dana Minbaeva
    • 2
  • Eric W K Tsang
    • 3
  1. 1.Thunderbird School of Global ManagementArizona State UniversityGlendaleUSA
  2. 2.Copenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  3. 3.Naveen Jindal School of ManagementUniversity of Texas at DallasRichardsonUSA

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