Appropriate Technology[edit | edit source]

The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology[edit | edit source]

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Source and full text: Joshua M. Pearce, "The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology", Environment, Development and Sustainability 14, pp. 425–431 (2012). open access].

  • Abstract:Much of the widespread poverty, environmental desecration, and waste of human life seen around the globe could be prevented by known (to humanity as a whole) technologies, many of which are simply not available to those that need it. This lack of access to critical information for sustainable development is directly responsible for a morally and ethically unacceptable level of human suffering and death. A solution to this general problem is the concept of open source appropriate technology or OSAT, which refers to technologies that provide for sustainable development while being designed in the same fashion as free and open-source software. OSAT is made up of technologies that are easily and economically utilized from readily available resources by local communities to meet their needs and must meet the boundary conditions set by environmental, cultural, economic, and educational resource constraints of the local community. This paper explores both the open source and appropriate technology aspects of OSAT to create a paradigm, in which anyone can both learn how to make and use needed technologies free of IP concerns. At the same time anyone can also add to the collective open source knowledge ecosystem or knowledge commons by contributing ideas, designs, observations, experimental data, deployment logs, etc. It is argued that if OSAT continues to grow and takes hold globally creating a vibrant virtual community to share technology plans and experiences, a new technological revolution, built on a dispersed network of innovators working together to create a just sustainable world is possible.

Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development[edit | edit source]

Source and full text: A. J. Buitenhuis, I. Zelenika and J. M. Pearce, "Open Design-Based Strategies to Enhance Appropriate Technology Development", Proceedings of the 14th Annual National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Conference : Open, March 25-27th 2010, pp. 1-12.

  • Abstract: The appropriate technology (AT) movement is being driven by inventors and innovators who are interested in designing technologies that are culturally, environmentally,and economically appropriate, and feasible to construct and use for people anywhere in the world. This paper examines how open sharing of designs, specifications, and technical information can enhance effectiveness, widespread use, and innovation of AT. This commons-based open design method has been highly successful for software development (i.e., open source), and has also begun to be used in other fields through unique partnerships and new information-sharing tools on the internet. This paper critically demonstrates key examples of open design successes that can be applied to development of AT. It also identifies potential barriers to open-sourcing AT designs, analyzes business models for open design in the context of AT, and outlines practical solutions with examples currently underway.

Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology[edit | edit source]

Source: Joshua M. Pearce and Usman Mushtaq, "Overcoming Technical Constraints for Obtaining Sustainable Development with Open Source Appropriate Technology", Science and Technology for Humanity (TIC-STH), 2009 IEEE Toronto International Conference, pp. 814-820, 26-27 Sept. 2009.

  • Abstract: Open source appropriate technology (OSAT) refers to technologies that provide for sustainable development while being designed in the same fashion as free and open source software. Facilitated by advances in information technology software and hardware, new ways to disseminate information such as wikis and Internet-enabled mobile phones, the global development of OSAT has emerged as a reality. This paper shows the sharing of design processes, appropriate tools, and technical information is enables more effective and rapid development of appropriate technologies for both industrialized and non-industrialized regions. This sharing will require the appropriate technology community to adopt open standards/licenses, document knowledge, and build on previous work. This paper offers solutions in the form of both business models and tools to overcome technical constraints of OSAT development in the forms of the platforms necessary on which to share and build knowledge about appropriate technologies. These solutions are open, easily accessible for those in need, have a low barrier to entry for both users and information creators, and must be vetted in order to utilized as a trustworthy source on critical information needs. Current progress towards implementing these solutions will be reviewed and recommendations will be made to further increase the rate of OSAT development.

Teaching Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects[edit | edit source]

Source: Pearce, Joshua M., "Teaching Physics Using Appropriate Technology Projects" The Physics Teacher 45, no. 3 (March, 2007): 164-167, doi:10.1119/1.2709675.

This paper discusses the problem of non-physics majors' lack of interest and motivation in learning physics, and proposes appropriate technology classroom projects as a potential solution. It highlights the potential of appropriate technology to improve the lives of people in developing countries and suggests that having appropriate technology projects in university-level physics classrooms would add to the body of knowledge, as well as spark the interests of students in physics. The author discusses his experience, where he gave five physics classes a final project related to Appropriate technologies for developing communities. The results were an increased interest and understanding of the material as evidenced by the time and energy put into the final project, as well as the increase in exam marks after the project was completed.

Open source 3D printers: an appropriate technology for building low cost optics labs for the developing communities[edit | edit source]

Source: J. Gwamuri, Joshua M. Pearce, "Open source 3D printers: an appropriate technology for building low cost optics labs for the developing communities", Proc. SPIE 10452, 14th Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2017, 104522S (16 August 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2269852; open access

This paper reviews OSAT and its application to making optics equipment.

  • The recent introduction of RepRap (self-replicating rapid prototyper) 3-D printers and the resultant open source technological improvements have resulted in affordable 3-D printing, enabling low-cost distributed manufacturing for individuals. This development and others such as the rise of open source-appropriate technology (OSAT) and solar powered 3-D printing are moving 3-D printing from an industry based technology to one that could be used in the developing world for sustainable development. In this paper, we explore some specific technological improvements and how distributed manufacturing with open-source 3-D printing can be used to provide open-source 3-D printable optics components for developing world communities through the ability to print less expensive and customized products. This paper presents an open-source low cost optical equipment library which enables relatively easily adapted customizable designs with the potential of changing the way optics is taught in resource constraint communities. The study shows that this method of scientific hardware development has a potential to enables a much broader audience to participate in optical experimentation both as research and teaching platforms. Conclusions on the technical viability of 3-D printing to assist in development and recommendations on how developing communities can fully exploit this technology to improve the learning of optics through hands-on methods have been outlined.

Virtues of Mundane Science[edit | edit source]

Source: Daniel M. Kammen and Michael R Dove, "Virtues of Mundane Science", Environment 39, no. 6 (August 1997): 10-15, 38-41.

This article argues that in order to achieve Sustainable development, an interdisciplinary approach must be taken to studying "mundane" science. It gives the example of wood cook stoves, which many people in developing countries use to cook, and which cause a large number of health and safety-related issues. However, an improved cook stove is not a trivial problem, and takes it takes research of scientists, engineers, economists, development workers and community members to come up with the best solution. The authors thus call for scientific research to focus on "mundane" science problems that affect a large portion f the world's poor. The article gives five fallacies within this problem:

  1. mundane science is seen as anti-scientific (ex: AT movement, which is seen not as a new field of research but as a counter movement to regular scientific research)
  2. anything but traditional basic scientific research is not seen to result is significant discoveries
  3. basic science is seen as more respectable and worthwhile than applied science into mundane problems
  4. development outcomes are seen as technological rather than social (ex: a project resulting in deforestation is seen as having accidental outcomes, and thus no effort is put into studying this aspect of the project-problems are seen as accidental instead of systemic)
  5. Mundane science is sometimes not seen as scientific(ex: growing crops is seen as scientific and thus much research is focused there. Storing and transporting goods is seen as social and thus no research is focused there, even though most crops spoil during storage and transport)

Thus, the authors call for a shift in focus of scientific research mundane topics

The Rise and Fall of the Appropriate Technology Movement in the United States, 1965 - 1985[edit | edit source]

Source: Pursell, Carroll. "The Rise and Fall of the Appropriate Technology Movement in the United States, 1965 - 1985" Technology and Culture, Vol 34, No. 3: 629-637 (July 1993).

  • This paper describes the development of the AT industry in the 60's and 70's, and its consequent decline in the late 70s and 80s. Its rise is linked to the post-war attitudes of the realization of the failure of Western technological ideals, and the rise of dependency theories in the 1960s. It describes two books, "Small is beautiful" by E. F. Schumacher, as well as "Soft Energy Paths", as key books that advocated for the forwarding of 'appropriate technology'. The Appropriate Technology movement, also called the Alternative Technology movement, was developed along with the environmental movement and its main purpose was to provide developing nations with access to technology that was culturally relevant, environmentally sustainable and locally manufacturable. President Carter initiated various programs, groups, and funds supporting renewable energies and AT (Community Action Agencies, National Centre for Appropriate Technology), showing that there was political will to support the AT movement.
  • The decline of the appropriate technology movement is said to be part of the 'remasculinization' of US after the Vietnam War through the Reagan regime. It was said have failed because of the inability to counter advocates of the agribusiness, large private utilities, and multinational construction companies. For these groups, the elitist, narrow and traditional definition of the word 'technology' was maintained in order to forward their interests, and not those of the developing world.

Appropriate Technology Needs Political Push[edit | edit source]

Source: Jequier, Nicolas. "APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY NEEDS POLITICAL PUSH", World Health Forum. 2(4); 541-543. 1981.

  • Explains how the appropriate technology concept has won the support of the leading figures in industry and finance but that the main obstacles are not technical but political.

Soft Tech/Hard Tech, Hi Tech/Lo Tech: A Social Movement Analysis of Appropriate Technology[edit | edit source]

Source:Denton E. Morrison, "Soft Tech/Hard Tech, Hi Tech/Lo Tech: A Social Movement Analysis of Appropriate Technology", Sociological Inquiry 53, no. 2-3 (1983): 220-248.

This paper examines appropriate technology as a social movement. The AT movement developed as a result of:

  • Frustration that technology transfer is skewed towards industrial development, disillusions with "trickle down" method
    • ex: green revolution helped capital development, but negatively affected poorest farmers the most, increased urban-to-rural migration
  • Schumachr's "Small is Beautiful"
  • Environmentalism, because AT brought together social justice as well as environmental respect, which helped against the critiques of the environmental movement
  • Feminism and poor people's movements, although the relationships are complicated

The belief of the AT is that systems that are capital/resource intensive alienate people from their jobs, and are elitist and exclusive; people are largely controlled by the technology itself. Systems which are decentralized and resource conserving are inclusive and allow ordinary people to be involved in the process of technology development.

The paper brings up the new movement of high technologies, and questions whether they can be considered AT. They could be considered AT because some believe they improve quality of life. Robots could replace humans in tedious jobs, allowing humans more reasonable working conditions and communication technologies could allow for more equitable and representative and democratic discussions. On the other hand, high-tech research is still profit/capital driven, and its main focus is not sustainability or equality. Also, the growth of high-tech technologies could be seen as creating less human relationships and spaces.


  • Hard technology: one that creates inequitable social impacts, impacts on environment… that decrease quality of life
  • Soft/appropriate technology: has impacts that are socially equitable, environmentally benign

Appropriate Technology: Tools, Choices and Implications[edit | edit source]

Source: Barrett Hazeltine and Christopher Bull, "Appropriate Technology: Tools, Choices and Implications", Academic Press, 1999, 350 pp (Hardcover)


  • Appropriate Technology: what it is and why we care
  • Basics : Electricity, Hydropower, Wind Power,
  • Photovoltaic Power,
  • Methane Digesters
  • Agriculture
  • Aquaculture
  • Health Care
  • Solar Energy
  • Appropriate Technology in the Third World
  • Appropriate Technology In the US
  • Culture and Women
  • Technology policy
  • The Prospects for Appropriate Technology

Science and Technology for Development[edit | edit source]

Source:James Smith. "Science and Technology for Development", Development Matters. Zed Books, 2009.

Science and Technology for Development offers a very nice and crucial overview of some of the problems associated with development and deployment of science and technology in developing world. Some key ideas raised are: a) technology is not something inert, neutral and devoid of its own context, b) Knowledge ought not be valued for its subjective appeal, but inherently and contextually in its application and relevance, c) Making technologies work work for the poor is not about the fabrication of technologies themselves but it is about enabling people to make technology work for them through learning, capacity building and policy.

  • Introduction
  1. Rethinking Technology for Development
  2. The Institutionalisation and Internationalization of Science
  3. Making Technology Work for the Poor?
  4. Governing Technologies for Development
  5. Conclusion: Can Technology Transform Development?

Finding New Routes in Old Paths: Linking Cultural Needs to Technical Knowledge – Appropriate Technology Inspires Developing Societies Concept, Controversy and Clarification[edit | edit source]

Source: Felix Ryan and Franklin Vivekananda. Finding New Routes in Old Paths: Linking Cultural Needs to Technical Knowledge – Appropriate Technology Inspires Developing Societies Concept, Controversy and Clarification. Bethany Books, 1993 (Hardcover)

  • Very good chapters on appropriate technology transfer:

AT: Critical choice for the third world

AT: Concept and Controversy

AT: At the Crossroads

AT: Concept of Size

AT: Quickening Transfer

AT: To be Classified

AT: Problems Facing Africa

AT: Equity Unions – transferring capital, technology and management

The AT reader: theory and practice in appropriate technology[edit | edit source]

Source: Ed, Marilyn Carr. The AT reader: theory and practice in appropriate technology, London UK: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1985.

  • 465 pages, Chapters containing diverse list of authors discussing the following key topics:
  • Appropriate Technology: History, Concepts and Evolution: Definition, Criticism, Society and Environment, Growth of the Movement
  • Technology Choice: Theory and Practice: Theoretical Aspects, Considerations, Examples
  • Technology for Development: Food Production, Post- Harvest Systems, Livestock and Animal Health Care
  • Health, Water and Sanitation: Health, Water and Sanitation,
  • Biomass and renewable Energy: Stove, Trees and Agri Residues, Renewable Energy
  • Housing, Construction and Transport: Housing, Roads and Bridges, Low Cost Transport
  • Small Scale Manufacturing, Mining and Recycling
  • Generation and Transfer of Technology: Formal and Informal Sources, Tech Transfer and Aid,
  • Dissemination of Technolgy: National Policies and Development Plans, Channels of Diffusion, Promoting Small Enterprises
  • Education, Training and Communication: Formal Education, Formal and Informal Training and Communication

Appropriate technology: problems and promises[edit | edit source]

Ed, Nicolas Jéquier. "Appropriate technology: problems and promises", Development Centre of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development. Paris, 1976

Book that came out of 1974 meeting on low cost technology organized on 17th-20th September 1974 by OECD Development Center.

p. 9 Intermediate, low-cost, appropriate, self help technology – The underlying principles of all of these indicate a progress from within society – emerging trend. "Choice of technology" a growing trend within the analytical studies. p. 11 Book based on the practitioners experiences: Practitioners points of View + Major Policy Issues. But different ways of looking at things based on experiences.

Major questions addressed:

  • Rural Industrialization – how low cot tech improved local metal-works
  • Nature of Science and Technology policy for Rural Developmental – what role do the Universities have
  • How Viable have small-scale micro development projects become
  • Foreign Aid Strategy: to what extent and in what ways has assistance from foreign sources helped

Key Issues for Further Study:

  • More Government Support – a quantum leap in resource help is needed
  • Appropriate mix of small scale local initiatives and competitive trial-and-error process
  • Extensive R&D needed for the needs of rural places – dynamic interactions needed between local self-help efforts and scientific and technological resources from the industrial sector
  • Further innovative arrangements are needed to channel any jump in aid resources to spur local innovation, because a lot of new ventures are emerging in a large number

Innovation and Openness[edit | edit source]

Vareska van de Vrande et al., "Open innovation in SMEs: Trends, motives and management challenges," Technovation 29, no. 6-7 (2009): 423-437, doi:10.1016/j.technovation.2008.10.001.

  • This paper examines small- and medium-sized enterprises in the Netherlands. It looks at the motives and challenges that these companies face in implementing open innovation, and also the differences between small and medium enterprises, and service and manufacturing enterprises in their tendencies to adopt open innovation practices.

Thomas Kohler, Kurt Matzler, and Johann Füller, "Avatar-based innovation: Using virtual worlds for real-world innovation," Technovation 29, no. 6-7 (2009): 395-407, doi:10.1016/j.technovation.2008.11.004.

An example of open innovation.

P. Craig Boardman and Branco L. Ponomariov, "University researchers working with private companies," Technovation 29, no. 2 (February 2009): 142-153, doi:10.1016/j.technovation.2008.03.008.

May be of interest in examining IP laws and universities.

Koen Dittrich and Geert Duysters, "Networking as a Means to Strategy Change: The Case of Open Innovation in Mobile Telephony" Journal of Product Innovation Management 24, no. 6 (2007): 510-521, doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2007.00268.x.

Open innovation at Nokia is examined.

Keld Laursen and Ammon Salter, "Open for innovation: the role of openness in explaining innovation performance among U.K. manufacturing firms," Strategic Management Journal 27, no. 2 (2006): 131-150, doi:10.1002/smj.507.

A paper which follows Chesborough's idea of open innovation and profiles firms in the UK which use this business technique.

Nikolaus Thumm, "[ Patents for genetic inventions: a tool to promote technological advance or a limitation for upstream inventions?'," Technovation 25, no. 12 (December 2005): 1410-1417, doi:10.1016/j.technovation.2004.07.009.

  • This paper investigates when patents help and when they hinder technology development, specifically in the biotechnology industry. The article surveys 53 biotech companies in Switzerland to examine their challenges with patents regarding DNA. They bring up the challenges of anti-commons, patent thickets and royalty stacking and propose different solutions, such as partnerships, licensing, patent pools, and basic research exemptions, with the latter being most popular with the companies surveyed. It goes on to provide policy recommendations for patenting in Switzerland and also in Europe in general.

Watson, Tom. Causewired: Plugging in Getting Involved, Changing the World. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2009 (Hardcover)

Chapter 1: Lost in the Flood: Wired Causes Rise

Chapter 2: Friending for Good: The Facebook Philanthropists

Chapter 3: Signing up to Fight Evil: The Network Acts

Chapter 4: Portfolios for Change: Peer to Peer Philanthropy

Chapter 5: Defi ned by Causes: The Public Lives of Millennials

Chapter 6: From the Bottom Up: The Order Is Rapidly Fading

Chapter 7: Spare the Paperwork: The Quick Rise of Flash Causes

Chapter 8: Heralds of Change: Giving Goes Open Source

Chapter 9: Aspiration and Activism: Armies of Online Leaders

Chapter 10: Distributing the CauseWired Future Related Websites Further Reading.

Yochai Benkler, "Intellectual Property: Commons-Based Strategies and the Problems of Patents" Science 305, no. 5687 (August 20, 2004): 1110-1111, doi:10.1126/science.1100526.

This paper discusses intellectual property issues and innovation. Patent laws do not always increase innovation, and sometimes hinder it, for example through the tragedy of anti-commons. It gives a number of examples of commons-based production of innovation, including:

The paper then proposes two things:

  1. Universities should not patent their IP. The revenue received from patents is an order of magnitude smaller than revenues received from government grants at universities in the United States. Universities should use licenses like an Open Research License (ORL) or a Developing Country License (DCL) in order to provide other researchers and students access to information, avoid anti-commons, but still allow companies to make profits.
  2. Peer production could be used in universities. There are some aspects of research that could be modulated into smaller, low-intensity sections so that many researchers could participate with low commitment levels.


  • Commons-based production: "no one uses exclusive rights to organize effort or capture its value, and cooperation is achieved through social mechanisms"

Richard P. Bagozzi and Utpal M. Dholakia. (2006). Open source software user communities: A study of participation in Linux user groupsManagement Science, Vol. 52, No. 7, pp. 1099-1115 DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.1060.0545

  • Abstract

We conceptualize participation in Linux user groups (LUGs) in terms of group-referent intentional actions and investigate cognitive (attitudes, perceived behavioral control, identification with the open source movement), affective (positive and negative anticipated emotions), and social (social identity) determinants of participation and its consequences on Linux-related behaviors of users. This survey-based study, conducted with 402 active LUG members representing 191 different LUGs from 23 countries and employing structural equation modeling methodology, supports the proposed model. Furthermore, we find that the Linux user's experience level moderates the extent of the LUG's social influence and its impact on the user's participation. We conclude with a consideration of the managerial and research implications of the study's findings.

Sonali K. Shah, (2006). Motivation, Governance, and the Viability of Hybrid Forms in Open Source Software Development Management Science, Vol. 52, No. 7, July 2006, pp. 1000–1014. doi: 10.1287/mnsc.1060.0553

  • Abstract

Open source software projects rely on the voluntary efforts of thousands of software developers, yet we know little about why developers choose to participate in this collective development process. This paper inductively derives a framework for understanding participation from the perspective of the individual software developer based on data from two software communities with different governance structures. In both communities, a need for software-related improvements drives initial participation. The majority of participants leave the community once their needs are met, however, a small subset remains involved. For this set of developers, motives evolve over time and participation becomes a hobby. These hobbyists are critical to the long-term viability of the software code: They take on tasks that might otherwise go undone and work to maintain the simplicity and modularity of the code. Governance structures affect this evolution of motives. Implications for firms interested in implementing hybrid strategies designed to combine the advantages of open source software development with proprietary ownership and control are discussed.

Karim Lakhani and Robert G. Wolf, (2003). Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects, MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4425-03

  • Abstract

In this paper we report on the results of a study of the effort and motivations of individuals to contributing to the creation of Free/Open Source software. We used a Web-based survey, administered to 684 software developers in 287 F/OSS projects, to learn what lies behind the effort put into such projects. Academic theorizing on individual motivations for participating in F/OSS projects has posited that external motivational factors in the form of extrinsic benefits (e.g.: better jobs, career advancement) are the main drivers of effort. We find in contrast, that enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on the project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver. We also find that user need, intellectual stimulation derived from writing code, and improving programming skills are top motivators for project participation. A majority of our respondents are skilled and experienced professionals working in IT-related jobs, with approximately 40 percent being paid to participate in the F/OSS project.

G. Hertel, S. Niedner and S. Herrmann. (2003). Motivation of software developers in Open Source projects: an Internet-based survey of contributors to the Linux kernel. Research Policy, Elsevier Volume 32, Issue 7, July 2003, Pages 1159–1177

  • Abstract

The motives of 141 contributors to a large OpenSource Software (OSS) project (the Linux kernel) was explored with an Internet-based questionnaire study. Measured factors were both derived from discussions within the Linux community as well as from models from social sciences. Participants' engagement was particularly determined by their identification as a Linux developer, by pragmatic motives to improve own software, and by their tolerance of time investments. Moreover, some of the software development was accomplished by teams. Activities in these teams were particularly determined by participants' evaluation of the team goals as well as by their perceived indispensability and self-efficacy.

Richard C. Atkinson et al., "INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: Public Sector Collaboration for Agricultural IP Management," Science 301, no. 5630 (July 11, 2003): 174-175, doi:10.1126/science.1085553.

  • Abstract

The fragmented ownership of rights to intellectual property (IP) in agricultural biotechnology leads to situations where no single public-sector institution can provide a complete set of IP rights to ensure freedom to operate with a particular technology. This situation causes obstacles to the distribution of improved staple crops for humanitarian purposes in the developing world and specialty crops in the developed world. This Policy Forum describes an initiative by the major agricultural universities in the United States and other public-sector institutions to establish a new paradigm in the management of IP to facilitate commercial development of such crops.

Jean Tirole, Marcin Strojwas, and Josh Lerner, "Cooperative Marketing Agreements Between Competitors: Evidence from Patent Pools," NBER Working Paper, no. W9680 (May 2003),

Chesbrough, Henry W. (2003). "The Era of Open Innovation," MIT Sloan Management Review 44, no. 2 (Spring 2003): 35-41.

  • This article describes a shift in innovation models from closed to open, and describes exactly with the open model is and how it is different from traditional models. The closed innovation models has been used for most of the 20th century, where big firms such at Dupont or AT&T dominate their field by having very large and well-funded research and development (R&D) departments. However, there is now a shift to have a more open model of innovation, where ideas come internally and externally, through licensing options and joint ventures. This shift is said to be due to the increased mobility of labourers and availability of venture capital (VC).

The following is an in-depth description of the way that innovation is managed in the open innovation model:

  • Funding innovation
    • Innovation benefactor fund basic research
    • Innovation investors fund mainstream research and move research from corporations or universities to the market.
  • Generating innovation
    • Explorers: making discoveries in research (innovate for innovation's sake)
    • Merchants: innovate for commercial interest, value is determined by their IP portfolios
    • Architects: they devise and support systems that allow networks of innovations to intertwine.
      • Nokia partnered with other groups (sometimes competitors) and licensing its research to others in order to develop their GSM chips
    • Missionaries: advance innovation to serve a cause
  • Commercializing innovation
    • Marketors: people who market their own and other people's ideas
    • One-stop-shop centres"": market ideas but also allow people to bring innovations together (like Yahoo, for example)


  • Closed innovation: "companies must generate their own ideas that they would then develop, market, distribute and service themselves"
  • Open innovation:"firms commercialize external and internal ideas by exploring outside pathways to market"

Eric von Hippel and Georg von Krogh, "Open Source Software and the "Private-Collective" Innovation Model: Issues for Organization Science," Organization Science 14, no. 2 (April 2003): 209-223, doi:10.2307/4135161.

  • Abstract

Currently, two models of innovation are prevalent in organization science. The "private investment" model assumes returns to the innovator result from private goods and efficient regimes of intellectual property protection. The "collective action" model assumes that under conditions of market failure, innovator collaborate in order to producea public good. The phenomenon of open source softwared evelopment shows that users program to solve their own as well as shared technical problems, and freely reveal their innovations without appropriating private returns from selling the software. In this paper we propose that open source software development is an exemplar of a compound "private-collective" model of innovation that contains elements of both the private investment and the collective action models and can offer society the "best of both worlds" under many conditions. We describe a new set of research questions this model raises for scholars in organization science. We offer some details regarding the types of data available for open source projects in order to ease access for researchers who are unfamiliar with these, and also offer some advice on conducting empirical studies on opens ource softwar deevelopment processes.

Eric vonHippel and Ralph Katz, "Shifting innovation to users via toolkits," Management Science 48, no. 7 (July 2002): 821.

Brian Bruns, "Open sourcing nanotoechnology research and development: issues and opportunities," Nanotechnology 12 (2001): 198-210.

  • This is an excellent paper examining the viability of open source design in the nanotech industry. Important things to learn from the open source software (OSS) successes are the bazaar-style design process, as well as the gift-culture created. Concerns regarding the tragedy of anti-commons provide reason to examine alternative research methods within nanotechnology. The paper discusses various licenses possible for nanotechnology and identifies this as an area where more research should be done. Various business models are highlighted, including the producer coalition, and reminds the reader that there are various levels of openness that firms could adopt depending on their business. A survey of the nanotech industry is done, and it is important to note that the many nanotechnology firms get funding from the US government, which favours strong IP and patenting laws.

Jeanne Clark et al., "Patent Pools: A Solution to the Problem of Access in Biotechnology Patents?" (United States Patent and Trademark Office, December 5, 2000),

This paper goes through the history of patent pools in the United States since 1900. It highlights the strengths of patent pools, which are that they avoid patent 'stacking' to allow for more innovation, decrease litigation costs, reduce risks for all companies involved, and provides access to information to companies involved. However, risks include inflation of competitive goods, shielding of invalid patents, and elimination of competition.

Adam B. Jaffe, "The U.S. patent system in transition: policy innovation and the innovation process," Research Policy 29, no. 4-5 (April 2000): 531-557, doi:10.1016/S0048-7333(99)00088-8.

  • This paper is a very thorough examination of the the US patent system over the last 50 years. The trend since the 1980s has been to create stronger and more restrictive patent laws. There has also been a steady increase in the number of patents applied for and granted. Of important to this subject is the observation that at universities, unlike most other bodies that seek out patents for research, the increase in patents has resulted in a decrease in patent quality, measured by the number of times that a patent at a university was cited in more recent patent. This is likely because university research is often not in a state ready to be commercialized, and firms will not commercialize without exclusive rights over the innovation.

Michael Kremer, "Patent Buyouts: A Mechanism for Encouraging Innovation," Quarterly Journal of Economics 113, no. 4 (November 1, 1998): 1137-1167, doi:10.1162/003355398555865.

A type of government-sponsored innovation - the government would buy unused patents from large firms and auction them off to others.

Michael A. Heller and Rebecca S. Eisenberg, "Can Patents Deter Innovation? The Anticommons in Biomedical Research," Science 280, no. 5364 (May 1, 1998): 698-701, doi:10.1126/science.280.5364.698.

Interesting example of the patent system inhibiting innovation.

Elhanan Helpman, "Innovation, Imitation, and Intellectual Property Rights," Econometrica 61, no. 6 (November 1993): 1247-1280, doi:10.2307/2951642.

Examines intellectual property rights and their effects on innovation in the global North and South.

Murcott, Susan. "Co-evolutionary design for development: influences shaping engineering design and implementation in Nepal and the global village"., Journal of International Development, Volume 19 Issue 1. P.123-144

  • This paper from MIT calls for a new generation of engineers, and the technologies they will invent and implement, to meet the basic human needs for security, broadly defined. The greatest threats to security for most people are not armed conflict but common good social and environmental challenges. Co-evolutionary engineering design for development begins with a relationship among partners in the global village, informed by on-the-ground realities out of which culture/environment/location-specific solutions emerge. This learning, iterative process among partners includes cooperation, local expertise, local resources and reliance on the global environment as a lab for knowledge-sharing and open-source innovation. This article describes the conceptual framework of co-evolutionary design for development and takes the reader through the 10-step cycle using, as a practical example, the design and implementation of an innovative arsenic and microbial remediation filter for households in rural Nepal.

Nitin Sawhney et all., ThinkCycle at M.I.T. "Sharing Distributed Design Knowledge for Open Collaborative Design", TechKnowLogia, January- March 2002

  • This paper discusses a student run initiative ThinkCycle from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that seeks to raise awareness, develop design pedagogy and collaborative tools to address critical design challenges by working closely with universities and organizations worldwide. It explains the ThinkCycle initiative and topics, their framework and design approach, and touches on related online initiatives as well as ongoing open research questions.
FA info icon.svgAngle down icon.svgPage data
Authors Ivana Z., A.J.Buitenhuis, Amy Buitenhuis
License CC-BY-SA-3.0
Language English (en)
Related 1 subpages, 14 pages link here
Aliases Literature review on Open Source Appropriate Technology
Impact 1,127 page views
Created May 4, 2009 by Amy Buitenhuis
Modified April 14, 2023 by Felipe Schenone
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