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Applying the Open Source Development Model to Knowledge Work




This paper introduces a distinction between two different types of information goods in order to analyse the processes governing the review and integration of multi-authored contributions to information goods such as those produced through collaborations using the Internet as well as modular information goods such as open source software. It is argued that these distinctions are important because they suggest different organisational arrangements for producing such information goods. This method of analysing the nature of the information goods is employed to examine different organisational arrangements using the analogy of collaboration for traditional publication to identify actors and processes. The analysis of 'contributors' is extended from authorship to collectors and researchers. The paper examines a small survey of the governance procedures employed in projects that employ open source methods for collecting various types of information. We noted the prime role of the recruitment process in the relative success of the examples that we examined (ODP, Wikipedia, Nupedia, MathLearning, VRoma, and Web of Life). For these 'collection' efforts, the role of hierarchy in editing and review of project submissions appears to be important than in open source communities and may be an impediment to recruitment and project development. A number of directions for further research are identified.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Mateos Garcia & W. Edward Steinmueller, 2003. "Applying the Open Source Development Model to Knowledge Work," SPRU Working Paper Series 94, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  • Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:94

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Steinmueller, W Edward, 2000. "Will New Information and Communication Technologies Improve the 'Codification' of Knowledge?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 361-376, June.
    2. Cowan, Robin & David, Paul A & Foray, Dominique, 2000. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 211-253, June.
    3. Juan Mateos Garcia & W. Edward Steinmueller, 2003. "The Open Source Way of Working: a New Paradigm for the Division of Labour in Software Development?," SPRU Working Paper Series 92, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
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    Cited by:

    1. Loris Gaio & Alessandro Rossi & Matthijs den Besten & Jean-Michel Dalle, 2009. "Coordination, Division of Labor, and Open Content Communities: Template Messages in Wiki-Based Collections," DISA Working Papers 0903, Department of Computer and Management Sciences, University of Trento, Italy, revised 29 Jul 2009.

    More about this item


    open source software; collaboration; hierarchies; trust; teams; co-operation;

    JEL classification:

    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • L96 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Telecommunications
    • L33 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Comparison of Public and Private Enterprise and Nonprofit Institutions; Privatization; Contracting Out
    • P13 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Cooperative Enterprises
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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