Markus Manhart


Literature on knowledge protection strongly focuses on the application of measures, widely neglecting the abilities of individual firms. A capability view on firms could help to answer the question of how well they can utilize different measures for protecting knowledge. Drawing on the resource-based view, this paper proposes the concept of protection capabilities and discusses how they could help firms to protect knowledge. Protection capabilities are conceptualized as a capability model that mirrors the identification, assimilation, and application capabilities as defined in the model of absorptive capacity. As a result, firms need to develop three types of capabilities: (1) concealment to protect their resources, (2) ambiguity to protect their capabilities and (3) enforcement to protect their business strategies. This paper discusses how each capability type reduces the risk of external organizations absorbing knowledge, and gives examples of what role IT plays in building each of the capability types.