The Determinants of Individual Performance and Collective Value in Private-Collective Software Innovation
The MathWorks, Inc.
Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group; Harvard University - Berkman Center for Internet & Society; Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science
February 9, 2010
Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Mgt. Unit Working Paper No. 10-065
We investigate if the actions by individuals in creating effective new innovations are aligned with the reuse of those innovations by others in a private-collective software development context. This relationship is studied in the setting of eleven “wiki-like” programming contests, where contest submissions are open for reuse by others, each involving more than one hundred contributors and several thousand attempts to generate, over a one-week period, the “best” software solution to a difficult programming challenge. We find that greater amounts of new code and novel recombinations of others’ code, in a contest submission, increases both the probability of achieving top rank and the subsequent reuse by others in their own submission (community value). While, increasing use of borrowed code in a submission reduces the probability of achieving top rank, but increases the community value of the submission. Code structures that are more non-conforming to commonly accepted programming conventions similarly increase the probability of generating a top performer, but reduce subsequent reuse by others. Surprisingly, greater code complexity in a submission increases both the odds of generating a top performing entry and its community value. We discuss the implications of these findings in light of the literature on private-collective innovation with an emphasis on the importance of considering both individual and community perspectives as they relate to knowledge creation, reuse and recombination for innovation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 41working papers series
Date posted: February 10, 2010 ; Last revised: September 1, 2011
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