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Managing the boundary of an 'open' project

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Author Info

  • O'Mahoney, Siobhán

    (Harvard University)

  • Ferraro, Fabrizio

    ()
    (IESE Business School)

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    Abstract

    In the past ten years, the boundaries between public and open science and commercial research efforts have become more porous. Scholars have thus more critically examined ways in which these two institutional regimes intersect. Large open source software projects have also attracted commercial collaborators and now struggle to develop code in an open public environment that still protects their communal boundaries. This research applies a dynamic social network approach to understand how one community-managed software project, Debian, developed a membership process. We examine the project's face-to-face social network over a five-year period (1997-2001) to see how changes in the social structure affected the evolution of membership mechanisms and the determination of gatekeepers. While the amount and importance of a contributor's work increased the probability that a contributor would become a gatekeeper, those more central in the social network were more likely to become gatekeepers and influence the membership process. A greater understanding of the mechanisms open projects use to manage their boundaries has critical implications for research and knowledge-producing communities operating in pluralistic, open and distributed environments.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by IESE Business School in its series IESE Research Papers with number D/537.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: 21 Jan 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ebg:iesewp:d-0537

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    Postal: IESE Business School, Av Pearson 21, 08034 Barcelona, SPAIN
    Web page: http://www.iese.edu/
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    Related research

    Keywords: open source software; social networks; organizational design; institutional design;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

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    1. James Bessen & Robert M Hunt, 2004. "An Empirical Look at Software Patents," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000167, David K. Levine.
    2. Jaffe, Adam B., 2000. "The U.S. patent system in transition: policy innovation and the innovation process," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(4-5), pages 531-557, April.
    3. Behrens, Teresa R. & Gray, Denis O., 2001. "Unintended consequences of cooperative research: impact of industry sponsorship on climate for academic freedom and other graduate student outcome," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 179-199, February.
    4. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1996. "Protecting Early Innovators: Should Second-Generation Products Be Patentable?," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 27(2), pages 322-331, Summer.
    5. Owen-Smith, Jason & Powell, Walter W., 2003. "The expanding role of university patenting in the life sciences: assessing the importance of experience and connectivity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1695-1711, October.
    6. Paul A. David, 2000. "The Digital Technology Boomerang: New Intellectual Property Rights Threaten Global "Open Science"," Working Papers 00016, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    7. Paul A. David, 2005. "The Economic Logic of “Open Science” and the Balance between Private Property Rights and the Public Domain in Scientific Data and," Development and Comp Systems 0502006, EconWPA.
    8. Paul A. David & Dominique Foray, . "Economic Fundamentals of the Knowledge Society," Working Papers 02003, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    9. O'Mahony, Siobhan, 2003. "Guarding the commons: how community managed software projects protect their work," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1179-1198, July.
    10. Barabási, Albert-László & Albert, Réka & Jeong, Hawoong, 1999. "Mean-field theory for scale-free random networks," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 272(1), pages 173-187.
    11. Bruce Kogut & Anca Metiu, 2001. "Open-Source Software Development and Distributed Innovation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 248-264, Summer.
    12. Owen-Smith, Jason, 2003. "From separate systems to a hybrid order: accumulative advantage across public and private science at Research One universities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 1081-1104, June.
    13. Suzanne Scotchmer, 1991. "Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Cumulative Research and the Patent Law," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 29-41, Winter.
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    Cited by:
    1. Jürgen Bitzer & Philipp J.H. Schröder, 2005. "The Impact of Entry and Competition by Open Source Software on Innovation Activity," Industrial Organization 0512001, EconWPA.

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