Download this Paper Open PDF in Browser

Open Collaboration for Innovation: Principles and Performance

Levine, S. S., & Prietula, M. J. (2014). Open collaboration for innovation: Principles and performance. Organization Science, 25(5), 1414-1433. doi: 10.1287/orsc.2013.0872

56 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2008 Last revised: 18 Sep 2017

Sheen S. Levine

University of Texas at Dallas; Columbia University

Michael Prietula

Emory University - Goizueta Business School

Date Written: September 16, 2013

Abstract

The principles of open collaboration for innovation and production — once distinctive to open source software — are now found in many other ventures. Some of these ventures are internet-based: Wikipedia, online forums and communities; others are off-line, in medicine, science, and everyday life. Such ventures have been affecting traditional firms, and may represent a new organizational form. Despite the impact, questions remain about the operating principles and performance of such ventures. Here we define open collaboration (OC), the underlying set of principles, and propose that it is a robust engine for innovation and production. First, we review multiple OC ventures and identify four defining principles. In all instances, participants create goods and services of economic value, they exchange and reuse each other’s work, they labor purposefully with just loose coordination, and they permit anyone to contribute and consume. These principles distinguish OC from other organizational forms, such as firms or cooperatives. Next, we turn to performance. To understand the performance of OC, we develop a computational model, combining innovation theory with recent evidence on human cooperation. We identify and systematically vary three elements that affect performance: the cooperativeness of participants, the diversity of their needs, and the degree to which the goods are rival (subtractable). Through computational experiments, we find that OC performs well even in seemingly harsh environments: when cooperators are a minority, free riders are present, diversity is lacking, or goods are rival. Given the results, we suggest that OC is likely to continue expanding and provide advice for research, practice, and policy.

Keywords: Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Strategy, Performance, Simulation, Model, Software, Open Source, Crowdsourcing, Wikipedia, Community, Economics, Psychology

JEL Classification: O31, C63, D64, L86, O34, P32

Suggested Citation

Levine, Sheen S. and Prietula, Michael, Open Collaboration for Innovation: Principles and Performance (September 16, 2013). Levine, S. S., & Prietula, M. J. (2014). Open collaboration for innovation: Principles and performance. Organization Science, 25(5), 1414-1433. doi: 10.1287/orsc.2013.0872. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1096442 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1096442

Sheen S. Levine (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas ( email )

2601 North Floyd Road
Richardson, TX 75083
United States

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Michael Prietula

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
599
Rank
36,523
Abstract Views
4,207