Published on February 26, 2014
What did 4 Academics Learn from Studying eZ Systems? February 2014 Robin Teigland Paul M. Di Gangi Stockholm School of Economics Sweden Loyola University of Maryland USA Björn-Tore Flåten Nicolas Pastorino Elia Giovacchini University of Agder Norway eZ Systems Director Community Stockholm University Sweden
Presentation Structure Start Motivation of the Study Opportunities and Challenges Methodology Key Findings Conclusions Finish
Motivation for Our Study • eZ Systems wants to create a killer community • Research team interested in learning how a firm can sponsor an Open Source Software (OSS) community • Discussions with eZ Share Director led to the questions: – How does the firm’s involvement impact the innovation capacity of the community? – How is the firm’s learning ability impacted by the involvement with the community?
Opportunities and Challenges with Firmsponsored OSS Communities OSS communities as complementary asset for firms with great potential for firms to turn community outputs into new service offerings BUT, potential for goal conflict between the firm and the community since firms in control – Firm’s goal is to profit from the investment – Community’s goal is to improve the shared technology
Definitions Boundary management The set of activities involved in defining, negotiating, and protecting organizational resources and domains of action as well as managing external stakeholder relationships to achieve organizational goals Four boundary management logics: 1. Boundary of power 2. Boundary of identity 3. Boundary of competence 4. Boundary of transactional efficiency These four cannot be studied in isolation as it is their integrative management that influences the community’s innovation capacity Absorptive capacity The firm’s ability to continuously transform knowledge and ideas (e.g., learn) into new innovations Please see our paper for references: Teigland, R., Di Gangi, P., Flåten, B-T., Giovacchini, E., Pastorino, N. (2014). Balancing on a tightrope: Managing the boundaries of a firm-sponsored OSS community and its impact on innovation and absorptive capacity. Information & Organization, 24, 25–47.
Research Methodology • Case study of eZ Systems and its firm-sponsored OSS community • 19 semi-structured interviews – 5 eZ employees – 14 affiliated partners, entrepreneurs, or OSS hobbyists – On average, interviewees were 34,9 years old, were male, and held a minimum of an undergraduate degree (typically Computer Science) – Interviews lasting 45-120 minutes each – All interviews recorded and transcribed • Literature-driven thematic analysis with coding of the transcripts 6
Key Findings 1 eZ’s boundary management of the community plays a crucial role in community’s innovation capacity, with Power having the most importance. 2 Importance of maintaining relationships not only within eZ to understand and absorb ideas and knowledge from community but also with the larger OSS and business community. 3 Community’s innovation capacity directly impacts eZ’s learning ability. Additionally, an integrative IT platform supports the development of community innovation capacity and firm learning ability.
Findings – Research Model from Research Point of View
Conclusions • The study extends our understanding of boundary management of firm-sponsored OSS communities. • Firms interested in leveraging a firmsponsored community must balance on a tightrope since tension between the firm’s goals and the community’s goals. Further research should investigate how firms that want to sponsor or engage communities can adapt their internal organizations to better fit with community-intensive innovation activities.
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