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Knowledge Management, Intellectual Capital and Entrepreneurial Initiatives

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Intellectual Capital

The submission portal for this special issue is now open.

Guest Editors:
Beatrice Orlando, Sapienza University of Rome, Italy (Leading GE)
Manlio Del Giudice, University of Rome “Link Campus”, Italy
Shlomo Tarba, University of Birmingham, UK
Sir Cary Cooper, CBE, ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, UK
Ari Ginsberg, NYU Stern School of Business, New York, US
Arvind Malhotra, Kenan-Flagler Business School, USA
Detmar W. Straub, Temple University Fox School of Business, USA

The creation of new businesses, starting from an existing one, may be the conduit mechanism through which knowledge spills over from those organizations that had generated originally, to those that later exploit it in the marketplace.

Either way, the amount of knowledge externally available for entrepreneurial use depends on the ability of the incumbent firm to effectively exploit its internal R&D investments. According to the Knowledge Spillover Theory of Entrepreneurship, the positive effect of knowledge spill-over on entrepreneurial initiative occurs as the exploitation of intra-temporal knowledge spillovers is not appropriated by the incumbent entities and it increases with the magnitude of the knowledge available for external appropriation. In other words, the less is firms’ efficiency to exploit the knowledge accumulated through prior R&D investments, the greater is the positive effect of any given knowledge stock on external entrepreneurial initiatives.

Thus, a paradoxical friction emerges between two different, but closely intertwined, sakes: the firm’s proclivity to leak only that part of new knowledge that does not hamper its economic right and fosters standardization as a means for ensuring the competitive posture of the incumbent on the market, and the predilection of the economic system to promote innovativeness and entrepreneurial initiatives.

Whilst traditional theories assume that knowledge spillovers are a factor discouraging R&D investments, by contrast, recent studies point to the fact that they may also elicit a rather positive effect. For instance, knowledge spillovers can be a strategic stimulus through which organizations pursue distributed innovation. Nevertheless, the degree with which exploitative knowledge is strongly associated with their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and innovation strategy as well, impacts their ability to effectively manage the relevant (both codified and tacit) type of knowledge.

Since innovation becomes to be increasingly more composite and based on recombination, the question of how firms’ strategies and their related degree of innovation openness may affect knowledge spillovers and, consequently, entrepreneurship is the subject of heated debate. This is a contentious issue because some scholars in the past have failed to integrate within their theories the notion that the creation of a shared context, in which the intra- and inter-organizational intellectual capital is shared, is fundamental in order to successfully manage knowledge. With this regard, Open Innovation scholars have provided valuable theoretical contributions suggesting that R&D spillovers may be transformed in to “inflows or outflows of knowledge that organizations can purposively manage”. Thus, the role of IPR protection needs to be rethought in the light of the attempts made by the open innovation and knowledge management (KM) streams of research to understand the consequences of different degrees of property protection (strong vs. weak) on the rents accrued to the organizations that produce knowledge and on the subsequent intra-temporal knowledge spillovers that are conducive to entrepreneurial opportunities and growth. In this respect, inside-out open innovation may serve as a way to preserve the right to economic appropriation of a firm, whilst simultaneously helping to manage knowledge spillovers in both an efficient and effective manner.

Moreover, innovation and KM researchers have opened up the road to this stream by indicating the key firm capabilities and practices that should lead organizations to improve their capacity to recognize and integrate external knowledge spillovers and by providing compelling evidence of the relevance of managing knowledge at both the internal and external organizational boundary levels. However, the organizational characteristics that could lead to gaining more benefits from knowledge spillovers, and the condition under which a structured knowledge management process may help in developing, sharing, and transferring intellectual capital are still vague.

In the context of entrepreneurship, KM theory suggests that tacit knowledge should be encoded and transferred within the organization’s ecosystem, thus “converting tacit knowledge into a growing set of explicit knowledge”. The ecosystem includes internal assets (e.g. human capital), such as employees capable of creating new knowledge and improving existing stock, and external assets (e.g., relational capital), such as customer reviews.

An illustrative example is given by smart cities, where information flows are denser and investments in innovation for the development of new smart technologies are constantly growing. In complex and heterogeneous ecosystems, many competencies and resources are accessible; however, different public and private organizations need to cooperate in creating multi-stakeholder partnerships, leaving room for several entrepreneurial opportunities for the co-development of new smart products and services. This opens many opportunities, for example, for high-technology new ventures, where a higher level of intellectual capital facilitates the awareness of existing entrepreneurial opportunities “by reducing the risk and increasing the returns from investments in innovation and venturing”.

With this call for papers, we would like to stimulate the debate on entrepreneurship and intellectual capital, encouraging a greater emphasis on cross-disciplinary research streams in order to explain where the entrepreneurial opportunities come from and elucidate how the knowledge and intellectual capital interact with new firm creation and innovation.

Thus, in order to better explain innovation outcomes and entrepreneurial success in networks, we call for original studies exploring the connections between intellectual capital, organizational behaviours, and knowledge management aimed at improving our understanding of such phenomena as creation of the new entrepreneurial venture, and its innovation and growth dynamics.

Both conceptual and empirical submissions related to the following list of research questions are welcomed, but other relevant topics will also be considered:

  • How should knowledge and intellectual capital be managed in order to lead to smart and sustainable growth?
  • Which organizational settings and behaviours lead to better entrepreneurial learning and enhanced performance in general and in terms of leveraging their intellectual capital in particular?
  • How do entrepreneurial environments - such as clusters, co-creation workplaces, accelerators, and incubators - impact entrepreneurship and the associated creation, codification, and transfer of knowledge.
  • How do knowledge network characteristics and positioning affect knowledge spillovers and, subsequently, innovation outcomes? What factors alleviate or aggravate such tensions or relationships and how they impact the intellectual capital of the-afore-mentioned networks?
  • How does the Dynamic Knowledge Creation Process of companies affect knowledge spillover and the exploitation of opportunities in a given context? Which effects does each process have and what impact they have on enhancing their intellectual capital?
  • Which incentives may be given to entrepreneurs to motivate new ventures to not “fly under the radar” and to deliberately refrain from externalizing knowledge in their effort to protect their intellectual capital?
  • Which kind of knowledge and intellectual capital residing in entrepreneur and founding teams may affect new venture creation and subsequent innovation type and knowledge development?
  • How does open innovation foster external entrepreneurial initiatives? What is the role played by inside-out open innovation in limiting the negative effects of knowledge spillovers? Does it magnify the effect of diffusion and standardization in knowledge spillovers? How does this impact a firm’s performance? Does it foster or hinder the knowledge from having a blockbuster effect on the market?
  • How firms are creating new businesses and markets by (internally and externally) sharing their knowledge to move into new marketspaces, create new products, identify new business models, and exploit opportunities to leverage their intellectual capital in new ways?
  • How do knowledge spillovers have tremendous potential that, for example, may be exemplified by internet firms, the sharing economy, the so-called “gig enonomy,” and other technology-driven innovations?

The interdisciplinary research studies - especially if spanning management, sociology, behavioural economics, and psychology realms – are also welcomed.

For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Lead Guest Editor Prof. Beatrice Orlando at [email protected]

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Submission Procedure:
Submissions to this special issue must be made through the ScholarOne submission system:

Visit the journal’s author guidelines for full details:

Ensure that you select this special issue (Knowledge Management, Intellectual Capital and Entrepreneurial Initiatives) from the relevant drop down menu on page four of the submission process.

Submission Deadline: November 15, 2019
Notification to authors regarding the status of their paper: February 1, 2020
Submission deadline for revise and resubmit (first round): April 15, 2020
Notification to authors regarding the status of their paper: June 20, 2020
Deadline for revise and resubmit (second round): September 1, 2020
Notification to authors regarding acceptance/rejection of their paper: September 10, 2020