Title: A case study of knowledge protection and diffusion for innovation: managing knowledge in the mobile telephone industry

Authors: Peter Galvin, John Rice

Addresses: Graduate School of Business, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA 6845, Australia. ' The University of Adelaide Business School, Adelaide 5005 SA, Australia

Abstract: The standardisation of interfaces in product architectures helps complementary products develop when network externalities are present. However, standardisation may also weaken a technology developer|s competitive position when the product knowledge embedded in standardised interfaces becomes accessible, thereby reducing the barriers to entry. Hence, there is a need to simultaneously protect the knowledge that underpins a firm|s competitiveness, but also to define the standards that are open to encourage the development of complementary products. In this paper, we analyse different types and levels of knowledge that underpin a product. We apply this analysis to understanding how Nokia and Ericsson maintained their competitive positions during the Global System for Mobile (GSM)-dominated phase of the industry, even though they were instrumental in developing GSM as an entirely open standard.

Keywords: information structures; innovation; knowledge management; knowledge protection; modularity; standardisation; mobile phones; cell phones; GSM; standards.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2008.019384

International Journal of Technology Management, 2008 Vol.42 No.4, pp.426 - 438

Published online: 10 Jul 2008 *

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