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Intellectual Property Management

Special issue call for papers from Management Decision

Guest editors:  Lara Agostini (1), Anna Nosella (1), Valentina Lazzarotti (2), Raffaella Manzini (2), Luisa Pellegrini (3)
Contact email:  [email protected]


In the knowledge economy, Intellectual Property (IP) assets have been recognized as increasingly valuable business assets. This is backed by the increasing trend towards patent application and trademark registration on the part not only of large companies but also, and to a larger extent, of SMEs (e.g., Hollanders and Es-Sadki, 2013; Hanel, 2006; Hughes and Mina, 2010). However, even if firms devote a lot of effort in developing IP and protecting them from imitators, they are not equally capable to capitalize on and extract value from them.

This is why, during the last years, research on IP has departed from the traditional economic and legal perspective in favor of a more strategic and management approach. To this regard, a recent systematic review of the literature on the topic by Appio et al. (2014) highlights that while economic aspects related to the IP system (such as the enforceability of property rights and the analysis of incentives that appropriability conditions offer to firms’ innovative effort) have been key in the past in directing scholars’ attention towards the topic of IP, the basic theoretical understandings provided by the economic perspective are now considered common knowledge and are generally granted in all IP and management studies. By contrast, there is still the need to understand how firms can manage their IP portfolio in order to extract value from it (Holgersson, 2012; Appio et al., 2014).

The strategic management of IP assets encompasses a set of activities such as: the creation or recognition of IP, the decision to apply or not for IP protection (Sullivan, 1997; Gassmann et al., 2012), the choice of the IP exploitation strategy and finally the routine assessment of its strategic and economic worth in order to find out whether it is still of value to the firm (Sullivan, 1997; Rivette and Kline, 2000). Supporting the IP strategic management requires the development of a set of practices, tools and methods as well as setting the organizational arrangements which are currently under investigated by the literature.
Some macro-areas which leave room for further investigation are here presented.

The process of IP management
If we consider IP management as a process made up of different stages (Teng, 2007), a significant gap in the literature is represented by how this process unfolds over time. More qualitative and longitudinal research could help reconstruct the process of IP management from the IP generation or recognition to IP exploitation and evaluation. Indeed, managers, scholars, and educators are still in need of practical examples and cases that illuminate the relevance, successes, and failures of particular IP management practices, strategies, and business models (Di Minin and Faems, 2013). Along the same line, an understanding of how methods and tools may be implemented and used to support the decision-making and management of IP along the whole process represents a fruitful path for future investigation.

Organizational arrangements for IP management
As any other activity or process inside an organization, also IP management requires resources to be used for its implementation. The literature offers no insights regarding the actors which are more suitable to be involved in this process, the education they should possess, as well as their capabilities. Moreover, understanding the involvement of the different organizational areas on IP management deserves further attention, in order to shed light whether IP management could benefit from an integrated approach.

The relationship between open innovation and IP management
As a consequence to the concurrent increasing importance of IP and the open innovation approach (Hagedoorn, 2003; Lasagni, 2012), the inherent paradox caused by the natural tension between knowledge sharing and protection arises, which authors have not been able to solve yet. The business world provides us with many examples (firms like Philips NV, IBM, and Microsoft) of large patent portfolio holders which embrace the open innovation model. Hence, a thorough understanding of how these two phenomena may co-exist and whether and how they can effectively benefit from each other represents an interesting opportunity for research.

Collaborative management of IP, co-patenting and co-branding
The increasing level of collaboration among firms has sought an increasing attention to the output of these collaborations. A stream of research on co-patenting and co-branding already exist, but authors have not scrutinized how partners manage the output of their collaborations in terms of IP, what difficulties may rise in sharing IP and how all partners  equally benefit from it.

A portfolio perspective
Frequently the literature deals with patents or trademarks separately; however, IP assets need to be considered from a portfolio perspective in order to increase the power while, for example, negotiating with partners (Di Minin and Faems, 2013). This is particularly relevant because IP assets can be used in synergy and can show a combined effect (Al-Aali and Teece, 2013; Conley, 2013). As a consequence, investigating how to effectively combine the strategic use of different IP assets in order to extract the highest value from them becomes central.

Exploration of IP management in the SME context
Considering that SMEs are widely recognized as important innovators and, in the past years, have registered increasing levels of IPRs, exceeding large firms (Hollanders and Es-Sadki, 2013), not only in the emerging industry, but also in the traditional ones (Frietsch et al., 2013), it is surprising that the literature has completely disregarded them in investigating IP management. Therefore, useful insights may be gained through exploring whether SMEs are involved in IP management and, if so, how. Oppositely, also understanding the difficulties SMEs face in managing their IP could help forge dedicated methods and tools for managing IP in a SME context.

First submission: April 13th, 2016
First round revision: June 30th, 2016
Second submission: September 30th, 2016
Second round revision: December 31st, 2016
Publication: February/March 2017

Submission Procedure:
Submissions to this journal are through the ScholarOne submission system here:
Please visit the author guidelines to read the full submission details for the Management Decision journal at:
Please ensure you select this special issue from the relevant drop down menu on page four of the submission process.

Lara Agostini (1), Anna Nosella (1), Valentina Lazzarotti (2), Raffaella Manzini (2), Luisa Pellegrini (3)
1 University of Padua – Department of Management and Engineering (Italy)
2 Cattaneo University - Institute for Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness (Italy)
3 University of Pisa – Department of Electrical Systems and Automation (Italy)