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Of Hackers and Hairdressers: Modularity and the Organizational Economics of Open-source Collaboration

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Author Info

  • Richard N. Langlois

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Giampaolo Garzarelli

    (University of the Witwatersrand)

Abstract

By employing modularity theory, we study the general phenomenon of open-source collaboration, which includes, e.g., collective invention and open science besides open-source software production. We focus on how open-source collaboration coordinates the division of labor. We find that open-source collaboration is an organizational form based on the exchange of effort rather than of products where suppliers of effort self-identify like suppliers of products in a market rather than accepting assignments like employees in a firm. Our finding suggests that actual open-source software (and other) projects are neither bazaars nor cathedrals, but hybrids manifesting both voluntary production and conscious planning.

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File URL: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/working/2008-53.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 2008-53.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in Industry and Innovation 15(2) 125-143 (April 2008) (Special Issue: Online Communities and Open Innovation) with minor revisions.
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-53

Note: Previous versions of this paper have benefited from the feedback received from Davide Consoli, Martin Michlmayr, audiences at DRUID June 18-20, 2006,Copenhagen and EURAM May 16-19 2007, Paris, seminar participants at Wits on April 25, 2007, and three referees of this journal.
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Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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Related research

Keywords: Innovation; Integrality; Intellectual Division of Labor; Modularity; Open Source Software; Theory of the Firm.;

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Cited by:
  1. Engelhardt, Sebastian v. & Freytag, Andreas, 2013. "Institutions, culture, and open source," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 90-110.
  2. Gauguier, Jean-Jacques, 2009. "L’industrialisation de l’Open Source," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/4388 edited by Toledano, Joëlle.
  3. Giampaolo Garzarelli & Riccardo Fontanella, 2011. "Open Source Software Production, Spontaneous Input, and Organizational Learning," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(4), pages 928-950, October.
  4. Koen Frenken & Stefan Mendritzki, 2012. "Optimal modularity: a demonstration of the evolutionary advantage of modular architectures," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(5), pages 935-956, November.
  5. Landini, Fabio, 2013. "Institutional change and information production," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(03), pages 257-284, September.
  6. Garzarelli, Giampaolo & Limam, Yasmina Reem & Thomassen, Bjørn, 2007. "Open Source Software and Economic Growth: A Classical Division of Labor Perspective," MPRA Paper 3849, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Giampaolo Garzarelli, 2008. "The division of labor and voluntary production," Economía, Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales (IIES). Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Sociales. Universidad de Los Andes. Mérida, Venezuela, vol. 33(25), pages 47-60, january-j.
  8. Francesco Rullani & Francesco Zirpoli, 2013. "Coordination of joint search in distributed innovation processes: Lessons from the effects of initial code release in Open Source Software development," Working Papers 20, Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia.
  9. Landini, Fabio, 2012. "Technology, property rights and organizational diversity in the software industry," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 137-150.
  10. Garzarelli, Giampaolo & Holian, Matthew J., 2011. "Parchment, guns, and the problem of governance," MPRA Paper 43724, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Rullani, Francesco & Haefliger, Stefan, 2013. "The periphery on stage: The intra-organizational dynamics in online communities of creation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 941-953.

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