Increasingly, firms participate in OSS communities. However, surprisingly little empirical research has been performed to understand firms’ participation in OSS communities. This chapter aims to fill this gap in state-of-the-art research on OSS. We will discuss and analyze the results from a survey of 90 Dutch high-technology firms that are active in the market for OSS products and services. In the survey we asked the firms what activities in OSS communities they perform. One outcome is that firms’ activities can be grouped into two distinct categories of activities, namely technical and social activities. This outcome is an important contribution to research on OSS that until now has viewed community participation as a uni-dimensional construct. The survey results also suggest that firms view their internal investments in R&D as a complement to their external product-development activities in OSS communities.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Social Participation in OSS Communities: Activities companies initiate to facilitate knowledge sharing among developers, firms, end users, and other community members and that may promote the wider acceptance and adoption of open source software among individuals and organizations outside the OSS community.
Technical Participation in OSS Communities: Activities firms undertake to make contributions to software development across a variety of open source projects. It involves activities that are directly or indirectly related to the development of new software such as contributing source code, writing software documentation, and participating in e-mail discussions.
Firm: An organization that conducts business.
Community Participation: Contributions to a community. They can be made by organizations and or individuals.