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Knowledge sharing, commitment and opportunism in new product development

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– In today’s market, firms are riding on the wave of globalisation to enhance competitiveness through corporate collaboration in new product development (NPD). In joint NPD, huge amounts of information and knowledge are interchanged among business partners. However, industrial experience and past research have indicated that knowledge sharing among firms invite opportunism, that is, knowledge being leaked or misused by others. To determine the means to rectify the problems of opportunism in joint NPD, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of commitment and knowledge sharing on opportunism.


– An online questionnaire survey was conducted to verify the research model with 312 valid responses from manufacturing firms. The survey data were analysed by structural equation modelling, and the findings were verified by follow-up interviews.


– Contradictory to most studies, this study finds that knowledge sharing among committed business partners suppresses, rather than invites, opportunism.

Research limitations/implications

– This finding is new in the literature with strong managerial implication. Firms that hesitate to share their knowledge with others because of the fear of opportunism should commit more seriously to their business partners so that they could share knowledge for better NPD.


– This study has reversed the sceptical belief of knowledge sharing leading to opportunism. This new belief will encourage corporate collaboration in joint NPD. However, for a comprehensive view on opportunism in inter-firm NPD, other governance mechanisms, that is, contract and trust, should also be studied in future research.
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Keywords: Commitment; Knowledge sharing; New product development; Opportunism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Systems Engineering & Engineering Mangement, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Publication date: July 6, 2015

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