Coopetitors need to manage interorganizational knowledge flows to balance cooperative knowledge sharing and competitive knowledge protection. The question of how to balance these has received little research attention, with most studies analyzing knowledge sharing or protection separately. To address this gap, we develop a theoretical framework on coopetitive knowledge sharing and knowledge protection practices. This framework is based on a literature review of coopetitive interorganizational knowledge management. To complement and refine this initial framework, we build on insights from a qualitative study that gathered data from 11 semistructured interviews with key informants of Latin American firms. We show that a balance between knowledge sharing and knowledge protection in coopetition is facilitated when coopetitive interorganizational knowledge management helps coopetitors share general and project-specific knowledge while they withhold core knowledge about their firms and clients. To achieve this balance, firms combine formal and informal knowledge protection practices. As theoretical implications, we provide a fine-grained and synoptic understanding of the characteristics of knowledge management among coopetitors. As managerial implications, we call managers' attention to the need to find a balance between knowledge sharing and protection that will help clearly define what kind of knowledge is shared or protected when firms cooperate with rivals.
- Interorganizational knowledge management
- Knowledge protection
- Knowledge sharing