Title: Smart-stolen tacit knowledge: institutional arrangements for invited piracy

Authors: Laurent Scaringella

Addresses: ESC Rennes School of Business, Rennes, France

Abstract: Because it is considered an asset, knowledge is frequently protected by intellectual property rights and strong regime appropriability. Piracy has been studied widely in the literature as deterrents to R&D activity. These prior studies are mostly quantitative and focus on explicit knowledge; however, this article extends beyond these studies and considers both explicit and tacit knowledge in a qualitative exploration of three longitudinal case studies that examine one research centre's spin-offs. We distinguish a certain class of entrepreneurs we call 'smart pirate-entrepreneurs'. Smart pirate-entrepreneurs benefit from both explicit and tacit knowledge - instead of solely explicit knowledge - when maintaining a balance between these types of knowledge. The institutions that house these spin-offs, which we call 'smart stolen-institutions', benefit from a 'return on piracy' by multiplying royalty income from an increasing number of smart pirate-entrepreneurs. Both parties take advantage of an 'invited piracy business model' in the search for legitimacy.

Keywords: entrepreneurship; piracy; innovation; research centre spinoffs; research centres; tacit knowledge; explicit knowledge; unintended knowledge spillovers.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2014.064273

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2014 Vol.22 No.4, pp.495 - 518

Available online: 13 Aug 2014 *

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