Abdelkafi, Nizar, Thorsten Blecker and Christina Raasch

From open source in the digital to the physical world: a smooth transfer?

Management Decision, 47 (10): 1632-1610, (2009).

Copy reference link   DOI: 10.1108/00251740911004718

Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to investigate the transferability of the open source principles of product development from the realm of software to the realm of physical products.Design/methodology/approach – Based on the inherent differences between software and physical products, a theoretical discussion of the challenges that face the implementation of open source principles in the physical world are provided. A multiple case study methodology is adopted to provide insights into the applicability of the open source concept in product development outside software.Findings – Many of the challenges identified theoretically are actually encountered in practice. To cope with these challenges effectively, hardware design activities can be translated into software development tasks, using programmable hardware. When dealing with open source projects in the physical realm, it is useful to distinguish between projects driven by commercial firms and those driven by individuals, as each project type can impose different conditions on successful implementation.Originality/value – Although much scholarly attention has been devoted to open source software, the issue of transferability of the identified principles to other industries has undergone little in‐depth research. This paper provides a solid foundation for further investigation of this topic based on theory and empirical case examples. It derives recommendations for industrial experts wishing to benefit from the open source model in new product development.

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