open source org theory


I’ve been working on a manuscript that broadly touches on emerging organizational forms, and thus catching up a bit on the ‘open source organizing’ literature.  There have been multiple recent special issues, and there is much general excitement about open source organizing in org theory.

Here’s a few quick resources for anyone interested:

Nice overview of open source organizing from a more economic perspective – Some Simple Economics of Open Source by Lerner and Tirole.

Q&A with Siobhan O’Mahony on open source and organizing – The Organizational Model for Open Source.

A piece on open source organizing and the Howard Dean campaign by Quintus Jett and Liisa Valikangas.

Paper by Sonali Shah using open source/Hippel-type logic to explain the emergence of various innovations and industries. (Keith Sawyer’s work, see post below, also uses similar intuition, specifically see his work on creativity.)

Sheen Levine, former guest blogger, also does research in this space.

And, Brayden pointed out to me, orgtheory’s very own Kieran Healy has a nice article on open source organizing.

Written by teppo

July 13, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Posted in entrepreneurship, teppo

6 Responses

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  1. I wondered, when writing the post, where the piece on ‘open source meets org theory meets social movements’ is – but Kieran’s paper certainly builds in some of that intuition.

    Now, Brayden, it seems like identity could also be theoretically linked into the discussion; identity, in various guises, does show up in some of the extant work (via professions for example), though not necessarily systematically.



    July 13, 2007 at 5:15 pm

  2. I seem to recall having a conversation once with somebody about identity and the open-source movement. Maybe the conversation was with you…But yes, you’re right, I’m sure identity motivations are important to this kind of organizing.



    July 13, 2007 at 5:38 pm

  3. […] Open Source, Open Source–Everywhere: org theory edition Teppo at Org Theory has collected some links! […]


  4. I remember seeing the Lerner and Tirole piece as a working paper, and they had a whole section on charismatic leadership, citing Weber and so on. Then by the time the published version appeared in QJE, all that had disappeared.



    July 13, 2007 at 8:52 pm

  5. An even more detailed and up-to-date overview, from an econ perspective, is Maurer and Scotchmer, “Open Source Software: The New Intellectual Property Paradigm”:


    Peter Klein

    July 16, 2007 at 4:14 pm

  6. Kieran, actually the leadership stuff in Lerner-Tirole is still there (pp. 221-23) of the published version, but the Weberian language (and reference) has been replaced by the Aghion and Tirole framework of “formal” versus “real” authority (, no doubt in response to reviewer complaints (BTW the paper was published in J. Industrial Econ, not QJE). Actually the Aghion and Tirole paper builds explicitly on Weber (and Simon).


    Peter Klein

    July 16, 2007 at 4:25 pm

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