Intra-corporate plagiarism? Conceptualising antecedents and consequences of negatively perceived mobility of ideas
Frithjof Arp and
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Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine and reflect on the mobility of ideas between multinational corporation (MNC) headquarters and subsidiaries. Does it always represent (positively perceived) knowledge transfer or can it sometimes constitute (negatively perceived) intra-corporate plagiarism? What are antecedents and consequences of negatively perceived mobility of ideas? Design/methodology/approach - The authors conceptualise inter-unit knowledge transfer in MNCs without recognition of originators as an act of intra-corporate plagiarism. The conceptualisation is informed by theoretical perspectives in the literature and indicative data emerging unexpectedly from a study designed to examine knowledge transfer in MNCs. These illustrate the concept, point to factors affecting the propensity to plagiarise, and provide preliminary insight on both negative and positive consequences. Aiming to build theory, the authors offer propositions for further research. Findings - The conceptualisation suggests that adopting units lose access to the original sources of ideas as plagiarism victims may establish defensive strategies. Originators of ideas may experience loss of trust, be unsupportive of implementation and erect barriers to future mobility. There is risk of reputation loss and rejection of ideas and practices from other units. However, the conceptualisation also suggests that, ironically and counterintuitively, plagiarism may increase the mobility of ideas within MNCs. Research limitations/implications - The authors do not test hypotheses and make no claims from the data about statistical validity or prevalence of the phenomenon. As the emergent data are not longitudinal, and specific to human resource management practices, the authors cannot empirically establish all antecedents and consequences of intra-corporate plagiarism. Hence, the theorisations primarily rely on perspectives in the literature. The study merely offers the theoretical conceptualisation of the phenomenon and propositions for future research. Practical implications Drawing on theoretical perspectives in the literature at the country level (ethnocentrism, dominance effects, legitimacy, capability) and organisation level (not-invented-here syndrome, micro-politics), the study indicates consequences that MNCs may wish to consider in their knowledge management. Originality/value - The first contribution is the conceptualisation of inter-unit knowledge transfer in MNCs without recognition of originators as an act of intra-corporate plagiarism. Second, the authors point out that knowledge transfer directionality reported in other research may be based on intentional or unintentional misrepresentation. Third, the authors theorise intra-corporate plagiarism as potentially useful in mitigating ethnocentrism, country-of-origin dominance effects and perceptions about legitimacy and capability.
Keywords: Knowledge management; Human resource management; International business; Plagiarism; Multinational corporations; Directionality; Mobility of ideas (search for similar items in EconPapers)
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Published in Journal of Global Mobility: The Home of Expatriate Management Research, 2016, 4 (3), pp.257-275. ⟨10.1108/JGM-05-2016-0020⟩
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Journal Article: Intra-corporate plagiarism? Conceptualising antecedents and consequences of negatively perceived mobility of ideas (2016)
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