This paper presents a psychological contract perspective on the use of open source as an offshore outsourcing strategy – open-sourcing as we term it here. Building on previous research on IS outsourcing, a theoretical framework for understanding commercial software organizations involvement in open source software (OSS) is derived. The framework is used in a qualitative case study involving a commercial organization, the Irish-based global middleware company IONA, as the customer, and representatives from the open source community as suppliers of services to IONA. The study reveals an ongoing shift from OSS as a community of individual developers to OSS as a community of commercial organizations, primarily small to medium-sized enterprises. It also reveals that outsourcing to the OSS community provides ample opportunity for companies to headhunt top developers – hence moving from outsourcing to a largely unknown OSS workforce towards recruitment of talented developers from the open source community. In a similar fashion, the process allows the development community to get to know the customer organization better. Overall, the key watchwords for open-sourcing are partnership, building of mutual trust, flexibility, tact, and complementariness: The customer and community need to establish a trusted partnership of shared responsibility in building an overall ecosystem to deliver the product. The customer has to be flexible in accepting consensus on the development priorities and the functionality that will be built in. The community must be flexible in affording more transparency into the development process. Also, the complementary skills offered by each stakeholder are key to successfully nurturing the ecosystem.
Agerfalk, Paer; Fitzgerald, Brian; Holmstroem, Helena; and Conchuir, Eoin, "Open-Sourcing in the Celtix Project: A Case of Outsourcing to an Unknown Workforce" (2006). ICIS 2006 Proceedings. 1.