The Interplay between Social Structure and Knowledge Reuse in Open Innovation Communities

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Current research provides little insight into knowledge recombination capacities of open innovation communities and the entanglement of these capacities with social mobility of contributors. Extending the literature on network-level determinants of knowledge diffusion and reuse we examine the interrelation between technical ties and social ties connecting open source projects to find out whether social mobility is significantly related to knowledge reuse in communities that are virtually unaffected by legal, economic and social barriers to reuse. We test our hypotheses using the entire population of 61,834 reusable Ruby projects contributed to RubyGems.Org within a period of ten years from the advent of Ruby language in 2003. Our results suggest that developer coaffiliations among projects are likely to coincide with knowledge reuse in form of function calls between projects. A deeper investigation into the temporal ordering of social and technical ties hints at a bi-directional relationship between the two phenomena, whereby new technical ties are more likely to arise in existence of prior social ties and vice versa. This sets our findings apart from the bulk of previous empirical studies that uniquely emphasize the role of social networks as determinants of knowledge diffusion and reuse. These results, on the other hand, corroborate the more recent accounts that underscore the impact of knowledge exchange on social networks, or describe the relation between s
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
Place of PublicationVancouver, British Columbia
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventAOM Annual Meeting - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Duration: 7 Aug 201511 Aug 2015


ConferenceAOM Annual Meeting


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