Technology, R&D management
complementary assets; open innovation; free and open source software; social network theory
Since Teece's seminal paper explaining who were the gainers from technological innovation, increased globalization and the information and communication technology revolution have brought newways for firms to organize and appropriate from innovation. A new more open model of innovation suggests that firms can benefit from sources of innovation that stem from outside the firm. The central theme of this paper is how firms try to unlock communities as complementary assets. These communities exist outside firm boundaries beyond ownership or hierarchical control. Because of practices developed by communities to protect their work, firms need to assign individuals to work in these communities in order to gain access to developments and, to an extent, influence the direction of the community. Using network analysis we show that some software firms sponsor individuals to act strategically within a free and open source software (FOSS) community. Firm sponsored individuals interact with more individuals than interact with them, and also they seek to interact with central individuals in the community. However, we can see differences in how individuals interact, depending on whether their affiliation is with a dedicated FOSS firm or an incumbent in the software industry. Apparently, some firm managers believe they need 'a man on the inside' to be able to gain access to communities.
With permission of Elsevier