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How open is open source: Software and beyond

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  • Balka, Kerstin
  • Raasch, Christina
  • Herstatt, Cornelius

Abstract

Traditionally the protection of intellectual property is regarded as a precondition for value capture. The rise of open source (OS) software and OS tangible products, so-called open design, has challenged this understanding. Openness is often regarded as a dichotomous variable (open-source vs. closed-source) and it is assumed that online developer communities demand full opening of the product's source. In this paper we explore openness as a gradual and multi-dimensional concept. We conduct an Internet survey (N = 270) among participants of 20 open design communities in the domain of IT hardware and consumer electronics. We find that open design projects pursue complex strategies short of complete openness and that communities value openness of software more highly than openness of hardware. Our findings suggest that open design companies can successfully employ strategies of partial openness to safeguard value capture without alienating their developer community.

Suggested Citation

  • Balka, Kerstin & Raasch, Christina & Herstatt, Cornelius, 2009. "How open is open source: Software and beyond," Working Papers 58, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:tuhtim:58
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2001. "The open source movement: Key research questions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 819-826, May.
    2. Bitzer, Jurgen, 2004. "Commercial versus open source software: the role of product heterogeneity in competition," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 369-381, December.
    3. West, Joel, 2003. "How open is open enough?: Melding proprietary and open source platform strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1259-1285, July.
    4. Harhoff, Dietmar & Henkel, Joachim & von Hippel, Eric, 2003. "Profiting from voluntary information spillovers: how users benefit by freely revealing their innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1753-1769, December.
    5. Joel West & Siobhan O'mahony, 2008. "The Role of Participation Architecture in Growing Sponsored Open Source Communities," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(2), pages 145-168.
    6. Franke, Nikolaus & Shah, Sonali, 2003. "How communities support innovative activities: an exploration of assistance and sharing among end-users," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 157-178, January.
    7. Henkel, Joachim, 2006. "Selective revealing in open innovation processes: The case of embedded Linux," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 953-969, September.
    8. Jeffrey A. Roberts & Il-Horn Hann & Sandra A. Slaughter, 2006. "Understanding the Motivations, Participation, and Performance of Open Source Software Developers: A Longitudinal Study of the Apache Projects," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 984-999, July.
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