Companies go to great lengths to keep some employees from leaving to work for rivals. Aside from offering benefits, they often rely on non-competes, trade secret protection, and other legal means to avoid losing important talent and letting the knowledge get into the hands of competitors. But our research suggests that companies might actually benefit from certain employees going to work for others in the same space.
In a recent study, we found that these employees act as “bridges” and facilitate more collaborations between their past and present employers. This facilitation can be useful, because even though partnerships create value for both companies, negotiating them can be tricky – both sides have incomplete information and differing technological capabilities, goals, and expectations. It’s not uncommon for talks to break down, at the cost of lost resources and opportunities.