A Strategic Approach to Knowledge Development and Protection

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A standard prescription for industry is increased investment in and application of intangible assets, including knowledge management, competitive intelligence, and, now, big data. This paper examines whether a more measured, strategic approach might be appropriate, particularly whether knowledge development and protection needs vary by type of industry. Overall, knowledge decisions should be more strategic, there are some patterns in type of industry (services) and type of knowledge. In developing this case for a more strategic approach to developing and protecting knowledge assets, this paper applies concepts from the fields of knowledge management, intellectual capital, and competitive intelligence to healthcare industries. The literature is scanned to develop a categorization of the competitive conditions facing firms in these industries. This categorization (a Strategic Protection Factor framework) identifies the degree of knowledge development in an industry as well as the level of competitive intelligence activity and resulting knowledge protection concerns. Assigning data reflecting these variables, knowledge development and knowledge protection, the paper assesses the competitive circumstances surrounding 10 healthcare industries and provides broad strategic recommendations. The results show that knowledge development and knowledge protection conditions vary dramatically, even within a specific realm such as healthcare. Similarly, when looking at service and non-service healthcare industries, the same conclusion is apparent, with widely varying competitive conditions. The results call for a much more strategic, circumstance-specific approach to decisions concerning knowledge in organizations as well as more scholarly work on the differing conditions within which knowledge management takes place as well as where and why they exist.

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The Service Industries Journal

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Taylor & Francis