Strategic dimensions for open source competition: Appropriating value in a weak appropriablity regime

Christopher Fabritius

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose Firstly, to place open source business models in a theoretical framework. Secondly, to identify generic complementary assets that are essential for the ability of open source firms to compete. Lastly, to relate the individual assets to the properties of open source licensing and software business models. Design/methodology/approach An empirical approach that questions assumptions of existing theory. This is achieved through an examination of the mechanisms and unique characteristics of open source software, and how these influence business models with special regards to complementary assets. Using the findings from “Profiting from Technological Innovation” by David Teece and other key theorists to outline the interaction between complementary assets and available product markets. Finally, empirical data is used to identify and closely examine core complementary assets in weak appropriability regimes. Findings Copyright legislation is used to ensure innovation through forcing openness of the technology in contrast to the traditional opposite approach. Teece can be used to place open source business models in a familiar framework, defining open source as a weak appropriability regime. Though subject to a peculiar set of rules regarding technology and innovation, open source business is fundamentally “business as usual” when approached from a strategic perspective. It is the constellation of complementary assets in combination with select product markets that enables the unique competitive position for players and defines business models. Research implications The thesis provides a starting point for understanding the competitive position of a given open source business model, through an analysis of its complementary assets constellation and the selected product market. Originality/value Modifications to existing theory. This thesis challenges Teece's original assumptions in which protection of assets plays a central role. Within open source business models this assumption can be replaced in favour of an enforced emphasis on building complementary assets to capture value from technology innovations. Keywords software industry, open source, Teece, weak appropriability regimes, open innovation, capturing value from technology innovations, complementary assets, business model, licenses, patents, lock-in, strategy, technology, innovation, master's thesis.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2009
Number of pages71