Product development in open design communities: A process perspective

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Open source (OS) has raised significant attention in industrial practice and in scholarly research as a new and successful mode of product development. This paper is among the first to study open source development processes outside their original context, the software industry. In particular, we investigate the development of tangible products in so-called open design projects. We study how open design projects address the challenges usually put forward in the literature as barriers to the open development of tangible products. The analysis rests on the comparative qualitative investigation of four cases from different industries. We find that, subject to certain contingencies, open design processes can be organized to resemble OSS development processes to a considerable degree. Some practices are established specifically to uphold OS principles in the open design context, while others starkly differ from those found in OSS development. Our discussion focusses on different aspects of modularity as well as the availability of low-cost tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-575
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Innovation and Technology Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Open source software
  • intellectual property rights
  • modularity
  • open design
  • open innovation
  • product development process


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