A critical examination of knowledge ownership

[German title: Eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit dem Eigentumsrecht an Wissen]

Alina Dulipovicia and Richard Baskerville
Conflicts between privacy and property: The discourse in personal and organizational knowledge
The Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Volume 16, Issue 2, June 2007

Abstract: The paper critically examines knowledge ownership when personal or organizational knowledge is transferred between individuals or between individuals and organizations. Employing a form of discourse analysis, we analyse the data from three complementary perspectives (international treaties and conventions on privacy and intellectual property, employment and merchant account contracts, and verdicts from knowledge-related legal cases) to unveil the conflicts between privacy and property rights. The results show a dialectical view where ownership shifts between the individual and the organization/community and therefore, the individual may or may not necessarily own what he knows.
Privacy and property have been central issues in computational ethics for more than two decades. The use of information systems for strategic purposes offers new challenges for these established ethical concepts. Knowledge is not only a form of property governed by intellectual property law; it is also an individual attribute and, as part of the personality, it may be governed by privacy law. As a result, the dialectical view also shows that the ownership shift between the individual and the organization/community means that the organization may or may not necessarily own what it knows.

Keywords: Knowledge transfer; Strategic knowledge; Organizational knowledge; Personal knowledge; Privacy rights; Property rights

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Copyright © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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