Date of this Version

January 2005

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Van Caenegem, William (2005). Inter-firm migration of tacit knowledge: law and policy. Prometheus , Vol. 23, Iss. 3, pp. 285-306.

This is an electronic version of an article published in Prometheus © 2005 Copyright Taylor and Francis.
Prometheus is available online at


Much knowledge is diffused by the exchange of property rights in intangibles. But tacit knowledge, not being subject to property rights, is instead diffused by migration of knowledgeable individuals between firms. The law impacts significantly on this diffusion mechanism, in particular those rules that determine the use individuals may make of their tacit knowledge after migration to a different firm. The general principle underlying the relevant law is that individuals are free to migrate with all their tacit knowledge. Nonetheless there are some narrow exceptions to this principle. That these exceptions remain narrow and carefully policed by the courts is important because imposing too many restraints on use of tacit knowledge post-term would have a negative impact on real innovation.



This document has been peer reviewed.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.