PhD student in Information Systems and Innovation
Thesis: 'The Role, Significance and Legitimacy of Requirements in Open Source IT Innovation'
Requirements can be understood as embodying the vision of various stakeholders for a system-to-be. They may represent an attempt to model a future vision around a specific technical artefact. Both the requirements artefacts and the process in which they are embedded have a fundamental relation to IT innovation.
The research is based on questioning the narrow view of requirements as being only specifications for the technical elements of a system-to-be. The concepts of emergence, improvisation and control and hypomnemata are used to deconstruct such a common understanding of requirements and its artefacts through case studies. To this end various hypotheses are laid down: that OS requirements are ad-hoc and informal; that the OS requirements processes are minimal and varied; that IT innovation in OS is user-led or community-led through the medium of requirements; that OS demands a different requirements process; that this process has both a formative and constitutive role.
Open source provides an interesting environment in which to study requirements given how open source development is often portrayed as an open, informal and collaborative development paradigm. Looking beyond typical open source success stories, the research plans to focus on open source projects in vertical markets, where requirements can be vague, ambiguous and uncertain and where the know-what is arguably more important than the know-how. The implications of hidden complexity in the process of creating new software might be seen in the existence of new or specific coordination mechanisms to control and harness open creativity within the dynamics of the specific communities’ style of collaboration.
The expected contributions from the study are threefold. First, to provide a detailed understanding of how requirements are constructed and used in vertical market open source projects. Second, to explore the relation between requirements, their openness or the lack thereof, and IT innovation. Third, to assess how different or similar open source requirements and the associated process are to contemporary light-weight and heavy-weight software engineering methodologies.