A New Approach to the Process of Identifying Lead Users in Open Source Software Communities

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the 21st ANZAM 2007 Conference: Managing Our Intellectual and Social Capital, 2007, pp. 1 - 13
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This paper presents a methodology that is designed to improve upon established approaches to the identification of lead users amongst communities of end users. While it is clear that organisations can benefit by applying the lead user method an approach that recognises that certain end users of products are a valuable source and in some industries the only source of new product innovations, the process has been criticised for it's resource intensive nature. The individuals who author Open Source Software (OSS) complex and high-quality computer software that is typically distributed free of charge and without restrictions on use appear to share many common characteristics with Eric von Hippel's (2005) lead users. These skilled computer programmers develop their software collaboratively, and often form large communities that congregate in Internet 'chat rooms' to discuss and manage their software development projects. In response to a call for further research to improve the performance of the lead user method, this paper integrates concepts from the fields of innovation management, data visualisation and open source software to construct a process designed to improve the process of identifying lead users in OSS communities.
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