Impressions from this year’s re:publica

re:publica, a conference focusing on issues related to the digital society, took place from 5-7 May in Berlin. What is unique about the conference is that it brings together people from various backgrounds such as researchers, business people, political activists, journalists and bloggers. The diversity is reflected in the program and I tried to gain a broad overview of all topics covered.
Some of the talks provided food for thought. I attended talks about corporate surveillance in the age of digital tracking, big data and internet of things as well as talks about how activities of intelligence agencies sabotage official foreign policy objectives. Furthermore, whistleblower Annie Machon talked about her experiences as a MI5 intelligence officer and how the „war on concepts“ (i.e. the wars against drugs, terrorism, internet and  whistleblowers) is misused to restrict civic rights.
At the same time also cool stuff is happening: I visited the „Global Innovators“ talk and learned about local hacker, maker and start-up scenes in Singapore, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Brazil. Moreover, I took chance to attend a 3D printing workshop and learned about collaborative knowledge production in the context of „book sprints“ and online collaboration in the context of the German blog, which publishes entries of a war diary exactly 100 years after World War One.

Last, but not least, a major re:publica highlight was the talk of astronaut Alexander Gerst, who enthused the audience with his pictures and anecdotes from his six-month-stay at the International Space Station. The video is now online!

Astronaut Alexander Gerst on Stage
Astronaut Alexander Gerst on Stage

„The Rise and Fall of Interdisciplinary Research“ now also as book

If you have missed our article „The Rise and Fall of Interdisciplinary Research: The Case of Open Source Innovation“ in Research Policy in 2013, I am happy to say that you can read a version of it in the just now published book Open Source Innovation (Routledge). Thanks to Daniel Ehls and Cornelius Herstatt for editing and taking care of everything.

Welcome Sabrina Korreck

We welcome Sabrina Korreck (still with an empty web page) as a new doctoral student to our team. She will be examining User Foresight (how firms make use of Users knowledge for trend recognition/idea generation) as part of a three University project between University of Hamburg (me), Helmut Schmidt University (Hans Koller), and the Technical University of Hamburg (Cornelius Herstatt).
Excitedly looking forward to work with her on that project!

To Own or not to Own

The move from a manufacturing and product-based economy towards a knowledge-based service economy is certainly exciting and interesting.

One obvious change of course is the digitization of products which companies use to switch from the „buy it and own it“ mode to a „license the right to use it“ mode. Even in the non-digital world we observe an increasing trend towards „PaaS“ (Product as a Service). Think car sharing which transforms the need to buy and own a car towards the service of going from A-to-B whenever you need it.

For example, in 2014, publisher Aspen attempted to license a (physical) book to students during the run of a course which they would have to return after the course finished. This would have done away with pesky reselling to others while the costs would have remained the same ($200). (src: (in German))
In this case, Aspen seems to have backed down by continuing to offer a sales option after the move was heavily critizied by the EFF and others.

Technological progress enables thousands of new possibilities, but rather than empowering users, it seems that we are increasingly limiting and controlling them in ways stronger than ever.
We are moving away from a world in which the first sales doctrine enables library loans and resale of owned property to others towards a world where your licensed rights are limited by severe restrictions, where CODE IS LAW.

Restrictions such as: not moving countries, not bequeathing your „property“,  only using specific devices, not being able to print or backup your content, or not being able to consume your content after a few years (at the whim of your vendor). Your „purchased“ media might even disappear, for example because your multi-billion turnover vendor has a bug in its code.

It is surprising how many limitations consumers are willing to accept in return for the convenience to read to watch that media right now.

Good luck Piet Hausberg

My dear friend and colleague Piet Hausberg was employee #1 at the chair of Management and Digital Markets. Since July 2013, he has been performing research as a postdoctoral researcher, coaching students at all levels, being a nice guy and drinking an insubordinate amount of coffee (making me feel less bad in comparison).
However, after barely 1 and a half year, he has already moved on to form a chair of his own at the University of Osnabrück. There he holds the chair of Technology and Innovationmanagement now.
Unfortunately, it is a time-limited assistent professorship and he will still have to make it onto a permanent position. He has all the skills and knowledge, but Fortuna plays her part as well, so I wish him all the best of luck.
We continue to collaborate on reserach topics and occassionally host him in our premises to save him 5 hours of commuting time (on a single day!).

It was fun to have such a great colleague that close, now it will have to suffice to have a great colleague a bit futher away, good luck Piet!

Free WiFi-Access in Hamburg

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs revisited.
Source: pinterest/ransomtech

When it comes to internet access Germany keeps lagging behind, not only in terms of bandwidth, but also in terms of legal responsibilities of hotspot operators (this so-called „Störerhaftung“ has been recently been debated at the German parliament). Apparently there are plans to provide free of charge wifi access in the city of Hamburg (article in German) starting next year. I really appreciate this development. But in „free of charge“-supply usually the charge is only substituted by other commercial interests which makes the offer not free in a broader sense and often times even less attractive from a privacy point of view. For free, unrestricted, non-commercial, anonymous access you can however rely more and more on a grassroots initiative called „Freifunk“ that we already support and which is growing fast.

vhb-TIE conference

Piet Hausberg presenting at IAS-TUM, Munich, during the vhb-TIE-conference
Piet Hausberg presenting at IAS-TUM, Munich,
during the vhb-TIE-conference

Last month we presented our research on innovation diffusion at the annual meeting of the Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (TIE) section of the vhb. This year this event was hosted brilliantly by Joachim Henkel, Christina Raasch, and Tim Schweisfurth at the Technical University Munich (TUM). We enjoyed meeting old friends and colleagues and make new acquaintances and exchanging ideas and thoughts on innovation and its management. Very interesting keynote speeches came inter alia from Carliss Baldwin (Harvard), who was awarded an honorary degree by TUM, Ben Martin (SPRU), and Dietmar Harhoff (MPI Munich). We are already looking forward to next year’s meeting!​

2 Open Positions: 1 Postdoc (3+3 years) and 1 PhD (3 years)

We are pleased to that we can now invite applications for a full-time postdoc position (3+3 years) at our Chair of Management & Digital Markets. Read all the details here.
For any further questions please contact: sebastian.spaeth [ at ] wiso. uni-hamburg. de

We are also hiring a new doctoral student. Details are here.

Spaeth, S., von Krogh, G., & He, F. @ ISR (2014)

Spaeth, S., von Krogh, G., & He, F. (2014). Perceived firm attributes and intrinsic motivation in sponsored open source software projects. Information Systems Research, forthcoming. doi:10.1287/isre.2014.0539
is out and if you are subscribed is available here. Everyone else can grab a pre-print version (pdf).  It has taken us just about 8 years to get it done. Hurray! Thanks to Georg and Vivianna for bringing this through, and thanks to Natalia Levina for guiding us through the lengthy process.

Abstract: Voluntary contributions are crucial to the success of open source software (OSS) projects. Firms sponsoring OSS projects may face substantial challenges in soliciting such contributions, since volunteer participants are neither regulated by an employment contract nor offered financial incentives. While prior work has shown the positive impact of motivation on the effort expended by volunteer participants, there is limited understanding of how specific firm attributes shape volunteers’ intrinsic motivation. We offer a theoretical model of how the perceived community-based credibility and openness of the sponsoring firm have a positive impact on the intrinsic motivation of volunteer participants. The model is explored using survey data on volunteer participants from two sponsored OSS projects. Results show that a sponsoring firm’s community-based credibility (OSS developers’ perception of its expertise and trustworthiness) and openness (its mutual knowledge exchange with the community) strengthen the volunteer participants’ social identification with the firm-sponsored community, which in turn reinforces their intrinsic motivation to participate. Moreover, the perceived community-based credibility of a sponsoring firm directly enhances volunteer participants’ intrinsic motivation, whereas perceived openness fails to affect motivation without the mediating mechanism of social identification. Implications for firms seeking voluntary contributions for their sponsored OSS projects are discussed.