Open Source Software and the 'Private-Collective' Innovation Model: Issues for Organization Science

Eric von Hippel, Georg von Krogh, (2003) Open Source Software and the “Private-Collective” Innovation Model: Issues for Organization Science. Organization Science 14(2):209-223.

16 Pages Posted: 28 May 2009 Last revised: 30 Jun 2020

See all articles by Eric A. von Hippel

Eric A. von Hippel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Georg von Krogh

ETH Zurich

Abstract

Currently, two models of innovation are prevalent in organization science. The “private investment” model assumesreturns to the innovator result from private goods and efficient regimes of intellectual property protection. The “collective action” model assumes that under conditions of market
failure, innovators collaborate in order to produce a public good. The phenomenon of open source software development shows that users program to solve their own as well as shared technical problems, and freely reveal their innovations without appropriating private returns from selling the software. In this paper, we propose that open source software development is an exemplar of a compound “private-collective” model of innovation that contains elements of both the private investment and the collective action models and can offer society the “best of both worlds” under many conditions. We describe a new set of research questions this model raises for scholars in organization science. We offer some details regarding the types of data available for open source projects in order to ease access for researchers who are unfamiliar with these, and also offer some advice on conducting empirical studies on open source software development processes.

Keywords: Open source software, innovation, incentives, users, user innovation, collective action

Suggested Citation

von Hippel, Eric and von Krogh, Georg, Open Source Software and the 'Private-Collective' Innovation Model: Issues for Organization Science. Eric von Hippel, Georg von Krogh, (2003) Open Source Software and the “Private-Collective” Innovation Model: Issues for Organization Science. Organization Science 14(2):209-223., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1410789 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1410789

Eric Von Hippel (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E62-455
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United States
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Georg Von Krogh

ETH Zurich ( email )

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