Configuring intellectual property management strategies in co-creation: a contextual perspective
Tension between dynamic innovation activities and conventional static methods of intellectual property (IP) protection pushes companies to cultivate new IP management strategies that are responsive to the dual challenges of control and openness of IP in co-creation projects. Great openness may obstruct appropriation of benefits from co-creation outcomes, while great control may demotivate individual external contributors and impede their contributions to corporate innovation projects. Finding an appropriate approach to harmonising control and openness of IP is complicated by the peculiarities of the context of co-creation, yet the issue of the context dependence of IP management in co-creation has thus far received only minor attention in the innovation management literature. Hence, arguing that management of IP needs to be customised to match the specificities of particular co-creation projects, we conducted exploratory research intended to investigate what IP management strategies companies actually adopt in distinctive co-creation contexts, as well as how those IP management strategies differ across the co-creation contexts. Drawing upon the results of an analysis of 111 co-creation projects from the automotive industry, we provide an overview of 17 unique configurations of IP management strategies employed by companies, revealing notable contrasts between different co-creation contexts. By emphasising the importance of adopting a contextual perspective on IP management in co-creation, this article addresses current limitations of academic research at the interface of IP and co-creation and provides guidelines to project managers about which IP management strategies may be most prudent for specific co-creation contexts.