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  • ISBJ Secrecy and family firm final

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Should we patent it or keep it a secret?: The moderating role of proactive orientation in family versus non-family smes

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Elena Giménez-Fernández
  • Karin Beukel
  • Beverly Tyler
  • Nathalie Spielmann
  • Daniele Cerrato
  • Allan Discua Cruz
  • Marco Minciullo
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>International Small Business Journal
Issue number5
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)450-473
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date29/10/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We investigate how family and non-family small-and-medium size enterprises (SMEs) differ in their preference for patenting over secrecy as a means to protect value of intellectual property, and how proactive orientation moderates this relationship. Because secrecy carries more risks for spillover than patenting, we propose and provide evidence to suggest that family SMEs are more likely to use patents than secrecy relative to non-family SMEs as a mechanism to protect value. However, proactive orientation can weaken this relationship, since SMEs with a proactive orientation will avoid the disclosure of information required for
patenting. Using a sample of 300 SMEs from four countries in the wine industry, we find support for our hypotheses and contribute to both the intellectual property (IP) and SME literatures by explaining how family SMEs relative to non-family SMEs protect the value of IP.