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

Author

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  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard N. Langlois & Giampaolo Garzarelli, 2008. "Of Hackers and Hairdressers: Modularity and the Organizational Economics of Open-source Collaboration," Working papers 2008-53, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian von Engelhardt & Andreas Freytag & Christoph Schulz, 2013. "On the Geographic Allocation of Open Source Software Activities," International Journal of Innovation in the Digital Economy (IJIDE), IGI Global, vol. 4(2), pages 25-39, April.
    2. Giampaolo Garzarelli & Matthew Holian, 2014. "Parchment, guns, and the problem of governance," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 27(1), pages 71-80, March.
    3. Patrucco, Pier Paolo, 2013. "The Evolution of Knowledge Organization: The Emergence of Innovation Platform in the Turin Car System," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis LEI & BRICK - Laboratory of Economics of Innovation "Franco Momigliano", Bureau of Research in Innovation, Complexity and Knowledge, Collegio 201315, University of Turin.
    4. Davide Consoli & Pier Paolo Patrucco, 2011. "Complexity and the Coordination of Technological Knowledge: The Case of Innovation Platforms," Chapters, in: Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Reisinger, Markus & Ressner, Ludwig & Schmidtke, Richard & Thomes, Tim Paul, 2014. "Crowding-in of complementary contributions to public goods: Firm investment into open source software," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 78-94.
    8. 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, March.
    9. Williams, Michael R. & Hall, Joshua C., 2015. "Hackerspaces: a case study in the creation and management of a common pool resource," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(04), pages 769-781, December.
    10. Landini, Fabio, 2013. "Institutional change and information production," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(03), pages 257-284, September.
    11. Davide Consoli & Pier Paolo Patrucco, 2011. "Complexity and the Coordination of Technological Knowledge: The Case of Innovation Platforms," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economic Complexity of Technological Change, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    12. Bradley C. Boehmke & Benjamin T. Hazen, 2017. "The Future of Supply Chain Information Systems: The Open Source Ecosystem," Global Journal of Flexible Systems Management, Springer;Global Institute of Flexible Systems Management, vol. 18(2), pages 163-168, June.
    13. Rullani, Francesco & Haefliger, Stefan, 2013. "The periphery on stage: The intra-organizational dynamics in online communities of creation," Research Policy, Elsevier, pages 941-953.
    14. 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.
    15. Albert Jolink & Eva Niesten, 2012. "Hybrid Governance," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm, chapter 12 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. 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.
    17. 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.
    18. 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.
    19. Engelhardt, Sebastian v. & Freytag, Andreas, 2013. "Institutions, culture, and open source," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 95(C), pages 90-110.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights
    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets
    • L23 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Organization of Production

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