Community, Joining, and Specialization in Open Source Software Innovation: A Case Study

52 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2003

See all articles by Georg von Krogh

Georg von Krogh

ETH Zurich

Sebastian Spaeth

Universität St. Gallen

Karim R. Lakhani

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group; Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science; Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Date Written: February 2003

Abstract

This paper develops an inductive theory of the open source software innovation process by focusing on the creation of Freenet, a project aimed at developing a decentralized and anonymous peer-to-peer electronic file sharing network. We are particularly interested in the strategies and processes by which new people join the existing community of software developers and how they initially contribute code. Analyzing date from multiple sources on the Freenet software development process, we generate the constructs of "joining script", "specialization", "contribution barriers", and "feature gifts", and propose relationships among these. Implications for theory and research are discussed.

Keywords: Open Source, Freenet, Innovation, Software Innovation

Suggested Citation

von Krogh, Georg and Spaeth, Sebastian and Lakhani, Karim R., Community, Joining, and Specialization in Open Source Software Innovation: A Case Study (February 2003). MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4413-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=387500 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.387500

Georg Von Krogh

ETH Zurich ( email )

D-MTEC, SMI, WEV J 411
Weinbergstrasse 56/58
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland
+41 44 632 88 50 (Phone)

Sebastian Spaeth

Universität St. Gallen ( email )

Varnbuelstr. 14
Saint Gallen, St. Gallen CH-9000
Switzerland

Karim R. Lakhani (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Technology and Operations Management Group ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6741 (Phone)

Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science ( email )

1737 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society ( email )

Harvard Law School
23 Everett, 2nd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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