'Letting go of Control' to Embrace Open Source: Implications for Company and Community

Title'Letting go of Control' to Embrace Open Source: Implications for Company and Community
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsShaikh, M, Cornford, T
Secondary Title2010 43rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2010)
Pagination1 - 10
Place PublishedHonolulu, Hawaii, USA
ISBN Number978-1-4244-5509-6
Keywordsadoption, companies, interviews, organizations

It is increasingly understood across the information technology and services sector that engagement with the open source software model can serve as a means for firms to capture intellectual energy, learn about productive software processes, access relevant technical skills, identify and recruit staff, as well as obtain valuable resources including code. This paper reports a study undertaken within two large global IT companies that have been actively involved with open source for more than ten years. The study involved over 30 semi-structured interviews with employees of the companies drawn from top, middle, and lower level management, and included active and experienced developer as well as open source community members. Our findings indicate how these companies have adapted their day-to-day management practices to take into account the need for flexibility and freedom expected by open source communities. This paper focuses on how they 'let go of control' and what the implications of this are for both companies and the communities involved. Our data reveals a number of themes and in this paper we focus on three principal ones; issues of requirements, total cost of adoption, and alignment of open source engagement with long term company strategy.

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