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Role of reciprocity in firms' open source strategies

Yiqing Yu (International School of Business and Finance, Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai, China)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Article publication date: 10 August 2020

Issue publication date: 26 August 2020



Interorganizational reciprocity plays a key role in relationships among software firms and open source communities. This study seeks to illuminate how a firm's open source strategy, characterized by its participation in the open source community, contributes to its financial performance.


Based on the norm of reciprocity and social capital theory, the study proposes a model comprising the behavioral antecedents and business results of a firm's symbiotic relationship with the open source community. Data were collected through a survey. Partial least squares-based structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was used to assess the results.


A firm's participative behaviors can have three dimensions: technology giving, technology taking and social participation. Technology taking directly impacts financial performance, whereas the effects of technology giving and social participation on financial performance are fully mediated by the firm's symbiotic relationship with the open source community.

Practical implications

Managers can understand how a specific behavior ultimately contributes to a symbiotic relationship or a firm's financial performance and how to flexibly align participation strategies with the business orientation.


The study adds to the open source literature by refining and enriching the conceptual domain of a firm's participative behaviors in open source communities. It also reveals how contrasting behavioral strategies impact a firm's financial performance.



This work was supported by Guangdong Basic and Applied Basic Research Foundation (Grant No. 2020A1515011579).Declaration of interest statement: The author has no conflict of interest to declare.


Yu, Y. (2020), "Role of reciprocity in firms' open source strategies", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 797-815.



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