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Using intellectual property to map the organisational evolution of firms: Tracing a biotechnology company from startup to bureaucracy to a multidivisional firm

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The concomitant rise in the number of technology firms, US issued patents, and patent communications has forced researchers to investigate how such publicly known information can reveal characteristics and/or verify predictive models to describe the R&D-intensive firm. Here, we propose viewing the Boisot Information Space model through the lens of intellectual property as a means to describe and trace the organisational evolution of a technology firm. We map the model's dimensions – viz., codification, abstraction, and dissemination – onto publicly available forms of tangible (eg, patents, publications) and intangible (eg, trade secrets) knowledge assets to show that the model may accurately describe the social dynamics of a biotechnology company as it evolved from a 17-person startup to a >500 person multinational drug development company. This result relates to the firm's abilities to manage both tacit and explicit knowledge. A discussion of the limitations of the proposed model is described.Journal of Commercial Biotechnology (2006) 13, 28–36. doi:10.1057/

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: October 1, 2006


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