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Manlu Liu ( email@example.com) is an assistant
professor of management information systems and
accounting in the Saunders College of Business at the
Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.
Sean Hansen ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is an assistant
professor of management information systems in the
Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute
of Technology, Rochester, NY.
Qiang Tu ( email@example.com) is a full professor of
management information systems and an associate dean
in the Saunders College of Business at the Rochester
Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY.
© 2014 ACM 0001-0782/14/05 $15.00
which feels more like a family reunion
than a professional conference.
Much of the perceived strength of
the community source model is its capacity for combining platform creation
and evolution in a deliberate manner
(bureaucratic control) with the flexibility and innovative potential enabled by
values-based collaboration and interpersonal commitment, or clan control
(see Figure 2).
While commercial development is
within a bureaucratic mode of control,
OSSD operates largely through a mar-ket-control mechanism, augmented by
elements of clan control. In the community source model, we see strong
elements of both bureaucratic and
clan control. In this way, community
source combines significant benefits
from both commercial development
and OSSD, delivering the coherence
and flexibility of coordination based
on shared values and principles while
maintaining the institutional capacity
for long-term planning and directed
Community Source Development
The ultimate value of community
source development is pursuit of
shared value creation. The community source approach suggests a fundamental shift from the prevailing
practice through which organizations
invest vast amounts of talent and resources in IT without considering
similar efforts among kindred institutions. Indeed, it is appropriate that
higher education should be a primary
proving ground for this collaborative exploration of new approaches to
In creating a balance between
commercial and open source de-
velopment, the community source
model inherits notable strengths and
weaknesses from the other forms.
One obvious benefit is significant
reduction in costs due to pooling re-
sources. In addition, because users
drive development of functionality,
community source participants get
solutions tailored to their needs. Re-
turning to our hypothetical university
CIO, he is no longer forced to choose
among a high-cost vendor platform
that may not be suited to his institu-
tion, a resource-sapping in-house de-
velopment effort, or an open source
solution with gaps in desired func-
tionality. By joining with like-minded
institutions in a community source
effort, his university can achieve the
functionality that addresses its needs
at a much lower cost than an isolated
The community source approach
addresses the primary concerns vexing the CIO, even though concerns
persist. Challenges associated with
the community source model include
limited access to development talent,
managing levels of institutional commitment, coordinating across multiple
regulatory regimes, and determination
of pricing mechanisms. One particularly salient challenge in the Kuali case
is the management of growth. Due to
the institutionally based nature of the
projects, Kuali members see the need
for managing the community’s growth
proactively. Unlike the organic growth
of OSS projects, Kuali must attend to
the ways member institutions interact
as the community grows.
Our study also found that, despite its
significant promise, community source
development is no panacea. We are thus
eager to see where community source
goes in the future. There is evidence
the model is taking root in industries
other than higher education,
7, 20 even
though questions remain around innovation and control, management of
growth and evolution, and new modes
of organizational interdependence. In
our research, community evolution and
modular design are emerging as central themes. We are thus exploring ways
community source projects can employ
the principles of modularity to achieve
sustainability and a predictable evolutionary arc. However, as a research community, we have only scratched the surface of this novel approach to systems
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