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Dilemmas within commercial involvement in open source software

Malgorzata Ciesielska (Business School, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK)
Ann Westenholz (Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 9 May 2016




The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the literature about the commercial involvement in open source software, levels of this involvement and consequences of attempting to mix various logics of action.


This paper uses the case study approach based on mixed methods: literature reviews and news searches, electronic surveys, qualitative interviews and observations. It combines discussions from several research projects as well as previous publications to present the scope of commercial choices within open source software and their consequences.


The findings show that higher levels of involvement in open source software communities poses important questions about the balance between economic, technological, and social logics as well as the benefits of being autonomous, having access to collaborative networks and minimizing risks related to free-riding. There are six levels of commercial involvement in open source communities, and each of them is characterized by a different dilemma.


The paper sheds light on the various level of involvement of business in open source movement and emphasize that the popularized “open innovation” concept is only the first step in real involvement and paradigm shift.



The study was financed by the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation and by the Velux Foundation.


Ciesielska, M. and Westenholz, A. (2016), "Dilemmas within commercial involvement in open source software", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 344-360.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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