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Open source in the firm: Opening up professional practices of software development

  • Rolandsson, Bertil
  • Bergquist, Magnus
  • Ljungberg, Jan
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    Opening up firms to open source has changed professional programmers' work in software development. In their work practice they must cope with two modes of software production: one based on proprietary, closed work situations, the other built around open source community ways of cooperation and knowledge sharing. In this article we present a study of how programmers cope with the co-existence of an industrial/commercial and a community/commons based mode of production. We analyze how they develop strategies to handle tensions that arise from contradictions between these two modes, and how it changes programmers' approach towards open source software development in the company. The study covers proprietary companies that have gradually incorporated open source software (hybrid companies) and SMEs entirely built around open source business concepts (pure-play companies). Four strategies are elaborated and discussed in-depth: Engineering in the lab, Market driven tailoring, Developing the community consortium and Peer-production. At a more general level, the study contributes to our understanding of how the transformation of proprietary production processes into a more open mode of knowledge work is not only associated with company strategies, but also with tensions and new demands on how work is strategically handled by knowledge workers.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

    Volume (Year): 40 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 4 (May)
    Pages: 576-587

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:40:y:2011:i:4:p:576-587
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    1. Hertel, Guido & Niedner, Sven & Herrmann, Stefanie, 2003. "Motivation of software developers in Open Source projects: an Internet-based survey of contributors to the Linux kernel," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1177, July.
    2. Joel West & Karim Lakhani, 2008. "Getting Clear About Communities in Open Innovation," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(2), pages 223-231.
    3. Stam, Wouter, 2009. "When does community participation enhance the performance of open source software companies?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 1288-1299, October.
    4. Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Rossi, Cristina, 2003. "Why Open Source software can succeed," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1243-1258, July.
    5. Ragin, Charles C., 2000. "Fuzzy-Set Social Science," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226702766, May.
    6. Zeitlyn, David, 2003. "Gift economies in the development of open source software: anthropological reflections," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1287-1291, July.
    7. Dahlander, Linus & Magnusson, Mats G., 2005. "Relationships between open source software companies and communities: Observations from Nordic firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 481-493, May.
    8. Ragin, Charles C., 2000. "Fuzzy-Set Social Science," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 1, number 9780226702773, June.
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