My latest post got some interesting replies on a KM LinkedIn group, out of which I would like to debate the proprietary knowledge ownership topic. I don’t think that the subject in question can get an exact and absolute answer, but there are some relevant points that I would like to talk about.
First of all let me present the employee-employer proprietary rights that people listed and some that I added:
Knowledge belongs to the employer because:
- he pays for trainings, professional certifications, documentations
- he gives you access to company’s customers, procedures and management
- he provides the instruments that support you in your everyday activities
Knowledge belongs to the employee because:
- he gets schooled, but he is the one applying the knowledge
- the implicit knowledge (know-how) is individual
- he takes it with him when he leaves the company
For me this is not really a debate, but rather a confirmation of the joint property of knowledge. I believe in both the individual know-how value and organization’s support (including explicit knowledge, supportive colleagues and managers). As I already stated, our knowledge is crowdsourced, so though you own it, you also owe it to more than just you.
Which brings me again to the sharing concept. There are some voices suggesting mandatory sharing intellectual assets activities (like stipulating it in employment contracts), but I personally believe this won’t exactly trigger the mindset we’d like employees to have for collaborative actions. If it will have a negative pressure effect, employees engagament will be affected, thus becoming counter productive. The way I see it, for sharing to be successful (read natural), it has to be driven by voluntary beliefs.
Contributing to a common knowledge base is believing that building on each other’s competences is more effective than building on a self-centered knowledge platform.
Happy Knowledge Sharing!