The Behavioral Foundations of Trade Secrets: Tangibility, Authorship, and Legality

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This article examines whether the nature of information protected by trade secret law affects departing employees' normative judgments of obedience to trade secret law. This examination assesses two main dimensions: tangibility (whether the employee downloaded the confidential information) and authorship (whether the employee developed the confidential information by himself or herself). The data was collected from a nonrandom multi-sourced sample of 260 high-tech employees in Silicon Valley. Tangibility affected almost all the factors that were measured (such as the perceived consensus and participants' own intention to share information), while authorship affected only participants' moral perceptions. Further analysis revealed that the expected social approval of a new employer was the most important mediator of the effect of tangibility on the intention to share trade secrets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-235
JournalJournal of Empirical Legal Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


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