Not accidental revolutionaries : essays on open source software production and organizational change

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School of Business | Doctoral thesis (article-based) | Defence date: 2011-03-11
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Instructions for the author
Information Systems Science
Degree programme
65, [64] s.
Aalto University publication series. DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 13/2011
Open Source Software research has established that OSS technology (tools and practices) holds untapped potential. Based on a systematic literature review and a research engagement over a three-year period of data gathering, my dissertation describes how organizations leverage OSS practices to produce software. Leveraging OSS can be divided into two processes: 1) inbounding (moving public assets inside a company) and 2) outbounding(publishing) OSS. I outline the structural consequences these changes in software production entail and provoke. My research question is: What is the relation between local renegotiation of the term OSS and the organizational change provoked by OSS technology? I chose a qualitative approach to examine the case companies, informed by OSS research and institutional theory. The bulk of the data emerges from the industrial ITEA-COSI project, which focused on software commodification. I aim to provide a narrative of how the term OSS travels from the writings of enthusiasts to the daily work practices of software producing organizations. The findings underline the importance of local renegotiation of the term OSS. This renegotiation provokes structural changes in 1) the organizations that adopt OSS technology, but more widely also in 2) the industries these companies operate in. The main contribution of this research thesis, reported in four essays, is directed at two audiences: first, at academics, to promote the idea that OSS in organizations should be researched in a sensitivized manner. This requires moving away from too simplistic institutional contexts and ”the OSS business model”. Second, it is directed at practitioners, to reduce uncertainty about the adoption of OSS technology and to help build a capacity to accept, search for, motivate and reward contribution.
Supervising professor
Rossi, Matti, professor
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