In-between Open and Closed – Drawing the Fine Line in Hybrid Communities

Today, the community driven development model extends into a variety of new, often web based collaborations. Among these are hybrid open source development set ups in which various online tools are used to facilitate cooperation between virtual teams of commercial and voluntary stakeholders. As yet, how these relationships form and evolve is not understood extensively. This article presents a longitudinal case study of a smartphone startup that founded its early product development strategy on reliance on feedback from its customers through a web based question and answer forum. With this, the company managed to extend values typical for open source communities to support development of its proprietary software. Our main findings include that the challenge in similar settings lies in striking the right balance between the open and the proprietary – while overt openness may risk the competitive advantage of a company, leaving too much behind closed boundaries can create unnecessary friction in the relationship.

Hanna Mäenpää (University of Helsinki), Terhi Kilamo (Tampere University of Technology), Tomi Männistö (University of Helsinki): In-between Open and Closed – Drawing the Fine Line in Hybrid Communities

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