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


intellectual property
knowledge asset


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.

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