The core and the periphery in distributed and self-organizing innovation systems
Author(s)Lakhani, Karim R. (Karim Raziabdullah), 1970-
Sloan School of Management.
Eric von Hippel.
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The Internet has enabled the large-scale mobilization of individuals to self-organize and innovate outside of formal organizations. My dissertation consists of three studies examining the functioning of such self-organizing and distributed innovation systems. I focus on the differing roles of core and peripheral participants in the distributed innovation process and explore the potential generality of this new form of innovating. The first study explores a systematic method of broadcast search used by corporations to search for solutions to internal R & D problems by involving peripheral problem solvers - those who are outside of their organizations. I find that innovative solutions to difficult scientific problems can be effectively identified by broadcasting problems to a large group of diverse solvers in different fields. Broadcast search yields innovative solutions by peripheral solvers who are crossing scientific disciplines. The central characteristic of problems that were successfully solved is the ability to attract specialized peripheral solvers with heterogeneous scientific interests. The second study examines how participants jointly innovate in a Free and Open Source Software community. I find that members at the periphery - those outside of the core project team - are responsible for developing a majority of functionally novel software features.(cont.) In contrast, core members develop performance-related features. Peripheral members also initiate the majority of the development activity and provide critical input into the technical problem solving processes. Ongoing interactions between core and peripheral members are the primary enablers of collective problem solving. I discuss how core and peripheral members enact six work practices in jointly producing software in a distributed and virtual setting. The third study examines the motivation of core participants in 287 Free and Open Source Software communities. Theorizing on individual motivations for participating in communities has posited that external motivational factors in the form of extrinsic benefits as the main drivers of effort. I find that enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on the project was the strongest and most pervasive driver of effort. I also find that user need, intellectual stimulation derived from writing code, and improving programming skills as top motivators for project participation.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 2006.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentSloan School of Management.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management.