The relationship between knowledge sourcing and fear of imitation

Marco S. Giarratana, Myriam Mariani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (SciVal)


When firms tap external knowledge sources, they risk spillovers of their own internal knowledge. If the value of this potential loss and the imitation capabilities of neighboring organizations are high, fear of imitation might overshadow the benefits of openness. In such situations, firms might voluntarily reduce their use of external sources, relative to knowledge available internally. Data pertaining to 4,623 European inventions and direct information about the use of knowledge sources confirm that firms reduce their use of external, relative to internal, knowledge when they conduct costly research projects in locations characterized by high levels of absorptive capacity in a specific technology. This study also reveals fear of imitation as a mediating factor of this behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1144-1163
Number of pages20
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number8
Early online date5 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2014


  • entrenchment behavior
  • fear of imitation
  • firm strategy
  • innovation activities
  • knowledge sources

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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