Combination of Complementary Technological Knowledge to Generate "hard to Imitate" Technologies

Feng Zhang, Guohua Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Valuable technological knowledge attracts more imitations. In light of knowledge-level perspective, this study investigates how firms could generate rare and valuable knowledge that is also hard to imitate. By applying specialised complementary assets concept to the technological portfolio of a firm, we show that core and background technological knowledge from internal and external sources, respectively, are complementarily combined to create new technologies that delay inter-firm knowledge externalities and that generate significant intra-firm knowledge flows simultaneously. The results suggest that the combination of knowledge in certain technological categories would have significant appropriability benefits, allowing firms to generate valuable and hard to imitate technological knowledge. This finding contributes to knowledge management, patent economics, and appropriability literature. Managerial implications for knowledge management are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1950023
JournalJournal of Information and Knowledge Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Library and Information Sciences


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