Knowledge Theft in Organizations: Results from an Interview Study | Work in Progress Seminar with Alycia Damp

When and Where

Wednesday, March 24, 2021 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm


Alycia Damp


The seminar will run on Bb Collaborate.

Access via guest link

Access via Quercus 

Making valued contributions to an organization and receiving credit for those contributions are central to both the evaluation of an employee’s performance and to an employee’s subjective and objective career success. Yet, when employees find themselves as victims of knowledge theft, they might be at risk of losing out on the opportunity to be recognized for their work. In certain contexts, victims might also experience a violation of trust in their relationship with the individual who claimed ownership over their work. Surprisingly, however, we know very little about how knowledge theft affects victims as existing scholarly work has neglected to empirically and systematically study knowledge theft in organizations. Through an interview study of 30 individuals who share their stories as knowledge theft victims, I shed light on knowledge theft victimization by analyzing different experiences. I identify loss as a key mechanism that explains when and how knowledge theft compromises a victim’s performance and career success. I also identify betrayal, evidenced by violations of trust, as a common and often salient element across victims’ knowledge theft experiences. Importantly, both loss and violation of trust have implications for how employees strategically manage and respond to their experiences. Although knowledge theft victims rarely report their experience to a superior, and even fewer confront the perpetrator, many victims respond by purposefully adjusting their behaviours at work to protect their ideas and future opportunities to obtain recognition. Implications for organizations are discussed.