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Abstract

Open source has democratized software innovation to an unprecedented degree, but doubts persist as to whether democratized innovation can extend to business applications, where individual developers are not the end users. We report on a new kind of ecosystem around extensions to open source business applications, and examine the types of contributors and contributions relative to previous open source research. Our results show a surprising presence of small businesses, particularly consultants and freelance developers. These smaller firms bridge an important gap between lead users and producers, contributing disproportionately to new back-end and integration features. This study shows how new networks of commercial and semi-commercial players, particularly small businesses, are combining their efforts to create viable business ecosystems around successful open source business applications.

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