Corporate Source-Is scale the bottleneck?

I have been trying to figure out what would it take to replicate the success of the Open Source movement within the organization. Organizations like HP have been attempting to do this. HP calls it the Corporate Source which it defines as :

“Corporate Source is the application of Open Source concepts, perspectives, and methodologies within the corporate environment i.e., “open” to all developers behind the firewall. The same benefits of developing according an Open Source model are then available to internal projects,although the participating community size is smaller than the Internet.”

You can read the full paper here

One of the key challenges that the paper cites in driving a corporate source initiative is :

Adoption of Corporate Source (or any Open Source initiative, for that matter) is at its heart is more of a process of social than technical change. While it does require learning of new tools (e.g., CVS) and coding according to specific standards that may be somewhat different than use in any particular division, the key elements are leadership to draw people into using Corporate Source, and getting developers (and their management chain) comfortable with sharing code broadly across the company.”

Back to square one. This sounds like the typical challenge in driving any communtiy initiative that the organization tries to start top-down. As with many other community initiatives it would make sense to spend some time identifying existing groups that are already doing co-development and try to provide them with better tools and technology.

Meanwhile I have been reading Ken Thomson’s post on Virtual Teams,groups and crowds in which he writes about the implications of scale on mass collaboration in the internet. Some of the key questions that arise are:

1. What are the implications of scale on an initiative like Corporate Source?

2. What are the other factors that distinguish an Open Source from Corporate Source? Would people participating in corporate source initiatives have the same motivations as those in the open source world? Would they be more or less altruistic?

3. Even though Corporate Source is “like” open source, it still is closed to the rest of the world. Would that have implications on what gets created?

To be precise what is that gets “lost” when we try to emulate mass collaboration on the internet inside the organization. This could be any collaborative initiative apart from Collaborative software development. Apart from scale what are the other factors that influence the success or failure of such initiatives? Looking for answers.


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