The purpose of the paper is to empirically study firms' practises of knowledge and intellectual property (IP) management in customer–supplier relationships. The work applies the qualitative methodology of multiple case studies, and the material was collected in semi-structured interviews with management personnel at 36 organisations in Finland and in the Netherlands. Almost every firm had innovation relationships with their customers and suppliers, but the forms these relationships took, and the kinds of practices they involved, varied greatly. As a result, the firms considered the management of knowledge and IP in these relationships very challenging. We argue that by distinguishing knowledge management in the exploration phase of new business from knowledge management in the exploitation phase of innovation outcome, the firms could manage the knowledge and IP better. Accordingly, the paper introduces three propositions to support the knowledge and IP management in customer–supplier relationships.
- Knowledge management
- intellectual property
- customer-supplier relationship