The concept of open innovation , of which open source software is a well - cited example, has grown in popularity over the past decade. Firms engaged in open innovation leverage external knowledge to accelerate innovation and exploit innovation more effectively. One way in which firms can connect with external sources of knowledge is by participating in value networks with a multitude of external stakeholder s. Nevertheless, t here are few studies of open innovation value networks , with relatively little known about the characteristics that impact such networks. W e seek to address this gap by exploring the networking arrangements of eight European firms that have a formal strate gy around open source software (OSS) . The findings reveal that firms selectively engage in two types of value networks in order to benefit from open collaboration and innovation – one a high - density network comprising a limited number of familiar partners, the other a low - density network comprising a larger number of often unknown partners. Additionally, these networks are influenced by certain characteristics such as the level of commitment, knowledge exchange, the alignment of objectives and governance.