Open Source Software and the Private-Collective Model of Innovation

Topics: Open source, Eric von Hippel, Innovation Pages: 10 (3205 words) Published: January 11, 2013
Open source and private -collective model of innovation |1

Having written the paper on the open source software development as an example of private-collective innovation model Eric von Hippel and Georg von Krogh opened the door to a new area of study for organisation scientists. The paper has achieved widespread recognition amongst fellow theorists and has been used as a basis for further investigation of and expanding the topic. Additionally, it has prompted practical perspectives. However, some limitations deserve attention to be paid, in particular the issues of applicability in other fields. Hence, the aim of the essay is to examine key concepts introduced in the paper, analyse consequence of the findings as well as other theorists’ contribution to the subject. Subsequently, emphasising companies’ motivational concerns for implementing the model will be explored, later highlighting some limitations of the pater. Finally, in the conclusion the essay will endeavour to identify the position of the paper in terms of current innovation issues.


Having analysed the paper, I would argue that it has completed several objectives set by the authors. Firstly, they outlined the nature of the open source software development described by the authors as a “major cultural economic phenomenon” [Von Hippel and Von Krogh, 2003]; new model of innovation as opposite to the existing conformist models, which in perspective might change the way in which the innovations are shaped. Proving their belief the authors have provided two specific empirical examples of ex isting open source projects such as Apache Server Software1 and Fetchmail2, which, I believe, are well selected and, when developed, clearly illustrate the theoretical concept.


Apache Server Software – is used on Web server computers that host Web pages and provide appropriate content as requested by Internet browsers. Such computers are the backbone of the Internet-based World Wide Web infrastructure. The server software evolved into Apache in the space of four years and after many modifications and improvements contributed by many users. Apache has become the most popular Web server software on the Internet, garnering many industry awards for excellence. 2

Fetchmail - An Internet E-mail Utility Program. Fetchmail is an Internet e-mail utility program that “fetches” your e-mail from central servers to your local computer. The open source project to develop, maintain, and improve this program was led by Eric Raymond.

Open source and private -collective model of innovation |2

Secondly, the above facts were summarised to exemplify the private -collective model of innovation as a combination of two earlier existed models: private investment and collective action model.
According to the theorists, private investment model implies innovations as a process of knowledge production through exchanging the private investments to appropriation of private returns. The access of general public to knowledge represents a threat to such returns and therefore is prevented through intellectual property law mechanisms. While, subsequent contributors’ motivation is no doubts beneficial for innovation, the undermining point is that society suffers from underdevelopment as the innovations are privately manipulated [Von Hippel and Von Krogh, 2003].

The collective action model of innovations, in contrary is based on the principals of nonexcludability and nonrivalrausness of knowledge [Stiglitz, 2009]. It entails the provision of knowledge as a public good through revealing and “unconditional supplying it to a common pool” [Von Hippel and Von Krogh, 2003]. Free accessibility of knowledge excludes social loss. However, as everyone can use the knowledge produced by a handful of contributors the risk of choosing free-riding instead of contributing is high. This causes some motivational issues, e.g....

Bibliography: Bogers, M., Afuah, A. and Bastian, B. (2010), Users as Innovators: A Review, Critique, and
Future Research Directions
Bitzer,J., Schrettl,W. and Schröder P.J.E. (2007), Intrinsic motivation in open source software
Engelfriet, A. (2006), ‘Best of both worlds: Real-world examples of mixing open
and closed source software,’ Presentation at Open Source Business Conference (OSBC).
Engelfriet, A. (2006), Open innovations and open source. Article. Available at:
Accessed on: 14/12/12
Fitzgerald, B., Kenny, T., 2004
Gupta, A., Hatter, J., Pinnoju, S., 2008. E*trade financial services. Journal of Business Case
Studies 4.
Henkel, J. (2008), Champions of revealing—the role of open source developers in
commercial firms Industrial and Corporate Change, Volume 18, Number 3, pp
IBM (2012) Why big companies are embracing open source? Blog “Real world open source”
Available at:
Lim, K. (2000), The many faces of absorptive capacity: spillovers of copper interconnect
technology for semiconductor chips
Matthews, D., Wilson, G., Easterbrook, S., 2008. Configuration management for large-scale
scientific computing at the UK met office
Open Initiative (2012), Open Standards Requirement for Software, Online article.
Osterloh, M. and Rota, S. (2004), Trust and Community in Open Source Software Production.
Osterloh, M. and Rota, S. (2007), Open source software development—Just another
case of collective invention? Research Policy 36 (2007) 157–171.
Proctor, P., Deusen, P.C., Heath, L.S., Gove, J.H., 2003. The open-source movement: An
introduction for forestry professionals, in: 5th Annual Forest Inventory and Analysis
Raymond, E. S. (1999), The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by
an Accidental Revolutionary
Searls, D., 2003. Linux makes wi-fi happen in new york city. Linux Journal 2003, 3.
Spinellis, D. and Giannikas, V. (2012), Organizational Adoption of Open Source Software
Journal of Systems and Software, 85(3):666–682, March 2012.
Stiglitz J.E. (2009), Knowledge as a global public good, Global public goods : international
cooperation in the 21st century
Stuermer, M., Spaeth S. and von Krogh, G. (2009), Extending private-collective innovation: a
case study
von Hippel, E. and von Krogh, G. (2003), Open source software and the ‘‘private-collective’’
innovation model: issues for organization science
von Hippel, E. and von Krogh, G. (2006), Free revealing and the private-collective model for
innovation incentives
von Hippel, E., 2001. Innovation by user communities: Learning from open source software.
Voth, D., 2003. Open source in the US government. IEEE Software 20, 73.
von Krogh, G. Spaeth, S. and Lakhani, R.K., (2003), Community, joining, and specialization in
open source software innovation: a case study
Woolls-King, A. and Keeping, S. (2005), Should software be patentable? Philips Research
technology magazine, 25, 14-17.
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • OPENERP as Open Source ERP Software Essay
  • Essay about Open Source Software
  • The Advantages of Open Source Software Essay
  • Open Source Software Versus Closed Source Software Essay
  • Open Source Software Essay
  • Essay about Growth of Open Source Software
  • Open Source Software Essay
  • Computer and Source Software C. Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free