Despite the multiple benefits that cooperation among competitors may bring about, such coopetitive relationships are spiced with the risk of opportunistic behavior since a competitor-partner may gain access to a firm’s sensitive knowledge, use it to its own advantage, and thereby undermine the focal firm’s competitive advantage.
Since individual managers are at the forefront of safeguarding sensitive knowledge from competitors, we draw on the Upper Echelons Theory to explore how their cognitive bases and values, as expressed in their demographic characteristics, affect knowledge protection.
Specifically, we test our hypotheses about managers’ age, gender, education, and tenure and subsequent firm performance using multi-source, time-lagged data on a sample of 198 managers and discuss the implications for effective knowledge protection.
Theoretically, our results help link managerial characteristics and profiles to the critical knowledge protection decisions and activities and, thus, position specific managerial profiles as a source of securing sustainable firm performance.
Practically, these insights may help companies appropriately staff sensitive positions at the collaborative-competitive interface.