Reconciling digital transformation and knowledge protection: A research agenda

Ilona Ilvonen*, Stefan Thalmann, Markus Manhart, Christian Sillaber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Digital transformation revolutionises the way people work not only in office settings but also in physical work settings such as manufacturing or construction. New ways of combining digital and physical innovations and intensified inter-organisational collaborations are key characteristics for success. Knowledge sharing becomes increasingly important, but its inter-organisational nature and the blurring of organisational boundaries create new challenges for the protection of knowledge. Existing research on knowledge protection mostly focuses on single organisations or on dyadic relationships. Complex sharing arrangements and especially sharing in networks has received little attention so far. This paper presents a literature review, integrating the perspectives of the base domains of knowledge, strategy, innovation, and information security management with the goal to identify knowledge protection requirements in the era of digital transformation. Five avenues for future research on knowledge protection to support organisations coping with challenges imposed by digital transformation are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-244
Number of pages10
JournalKnowledge Management Research & Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018


  • computer-integrated manufacturing
  • digital transformation
  • industry 4.0
  • knowledge management
  • Knowledge protection
  • knowledge sharing
  • literature review
  • networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Business and International Management
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

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