From a Firm-Based to a Community-Based Model of Knowledge Creation: The Case of the Linux Kernel Development

Organization Science, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp. 633-649, 2003

18 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2006

See all articles by Gwendolyn K. Lee

Gwendolyn K. Lee

University of Florida - Warrington College of Business Administration

Robert Cole

University of California, Berkeley - Organizational Behavior & Industrial Relations Group

Abstract

We propose a new model of knowledge creation in purposeful, loosely coordinated, distributed systems, as an alternative to a firm-based one.Specifically , using the case of the Linux kernel development project, we build a model of community-based, evolutionary knowledge creation to study how thousands of talented volunteers, dispersed across organizational and geographical boundaries, collaborate via the Internet to produce a knowledge-intensive, innovative product of high quality. By comparing and contrasting the Linux model with the traditional/commercial model of software development and firm-based knowledge creation efforts, we show how the proposed model of knowledge creation expands beyond the boundary of the firm. Our model suggests that the product development process can be effectively organized as an evolutionary process of learning driven by criticism and error correction. We conclude by offering some theoretical implications of our community-based model of knowledge creation for the literature of organizational learning, community life, and the uses of knowledge in society.

Keywords: Open Source Software Development, Innovation, Knowledge Creation

Suggested Citation

Lee, Gwendolyn K. and Cole, Robert, From a Firm-Based to a Community-Based Model of Knowledge Creation: The Case of the Linux Kernel Development. Organization Science, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp. 633-649, 2003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=950262

Gwendolyn K. Lee (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Warrington College of Business Administration ( email )

Gainesville, FL 32611
United States

HOME PAGE: http://warrington.ufl.edu/contact/profile.asp?WEBID=2519

Robert Cole

University of California, Berkeley - Organizational Behavior & Industrial Relations Group ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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