Different settings, different terms and conditions: The impact of intellectual property arrangements on co-creation project performance
Innovation-focused co-creation between companies and individual external contributors is accompanied by the challenge of managing intellectual property (IP). The existing literature presents scattered evidence of various elements of the arrangements adopted by companies to manage their IP (such as a high or low degree of IP control, monetary or non-monetary compensation, non-disclosure agreements, additional agreements, and the waiver option) in different co-creation settings (including crowdsourcing contests, virtual communities, single expert sessions, and lead user workshops). However, the existing literature exhibits little understanding of how particular IP arrangements influence co-creation project performance in specific settings. Drawing upon contingency theory and configurational theory, we provide a framework that explains both the effectiveness of different IP configurations and the moderating role that co-creation settings may have on the relationship between IP arrangements and project performance. By the means of fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) on a sample of 116 co-creation projects, we determine the impact of various IP arrangements on project performance in different co-creation settings, and we show how this effect differs across those settings. Our study also demonstrates that IP matters for success in co-creation, while highlighting the interdependence of multiple elements of IP arrangements and their joint influence on co-creation project performance. Our study thus fills the gap in the literature where previous research failed to embrace the context-dependent and multidimensional effect of IP arrangements on co-creation project performance. Additionally, this study offers best-practice guidelines for managers for designing IP arrangements to meet the specific characteristics of their co-creation projects and to ensure their success.