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  • 2019larnerphd

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The entrepreneur as system architect: Designing narrative forms of open source business model

Research output: Thesis › Doctoral Thesis

Published
Publication date11/09/2019
Number of pages362
QualificationPhD
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date11/09/2019
Publisher
  • Lancaster University
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In the digital platform economy, individual freelance workers are matched to their temporary employers thorough online systems. Workers interact with platform firms individually, undermining collective action and hence worker power. This is an issue for policy, as these workers do not have the protections afforded to those in traditional industries. The platform economy has also enabled open source, where the software architect creates a boundary around the software code they accept from a distributed group of contributors. The role of the software architect raises interesting questions about power in what can be seen as a form of networked organisation. Open source can be viewed as a narrative of software code and discussions about it that create a boundary around the project. Open source can also be framed as a business model, where value created by contributors is captured by the software architect for the benefit of both contributors and users. Business models can be viewed as a narrative that can both express and create a desired future for the entrepreneur. The potential of open source to inform narrative forms of business model is the research area. Taking a social constructionist perspective, this study used workshop and participant observation techniques to engage with the founders and other stakeholders in three case study organisations. The empirical contribution is that a narrative form of open source business model can have a power-balanced structure through a discursive process of boundary management. The methodological contribution is that annotated portfolio techniques can reveal an entrepreneur’s business model design from ethnographic data. The theoretical contribution is the importance of conceptual integrity to business models as well as to software engineering. The issue of conceptual integrity can be explored further in future research on factors in business model success.