Interview with Mekki MacAulay guest editor TIM Review journal

Help this open access journal plan their upcoming Open Source Strategy issue

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The TIM Review is an open access journal with an upcoming Open Source Strategy issue they want you to contribute to. Mekki MacAulay is the guest editor for the issue, and in this interview find out more about the journal, this issue, and how you can share your expertise on the subject.

One of the pillars of the open source way is community, so I was quite pleased when Chris McPhee, the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Technology Innovation Management Review, reached out to me to thank me for including the TIM Review in my recent article about open access journals. The TIM Review has an open access policy that makes it a great place to share ideas with the broader open source community and aligns it with two pillars of the open source way: open exchange and participation.

It was nice to know that my article had been read by someone responsible for one of the journals I wrote about, however, Chris had a bigger message than just a simple thank you. He shared with me that the TIM Review has an upcoming issue of the journal focused on Open Source Strategy. I would have gladly reviewed the issue after it came out, but Chris reached out to me in time for something even better—there is still time to submit articles and they are interested in submissions from you. Chris introduced me to their guest editor for the Open Source Strategy issue, Mekki MacAulay.

Mekki is a doctoral student at York University in the Schulich School of Business. I asked him a few questions about himself and his vision for the TIM Review's Open Source Strategy issue. If you find yourself interested, consider contributing your expertise to this issue, find out how in this interview.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I began my career as a professional engineer trained in computer and systems engineering. I worked at Nortel back when the stock price was still above $100. Later, I worked in several federal government departments and as an entrepreneur starting two technology companies. I have been involved in open source since the early 2000s as the adoption of GNU/Linux, Mozilla (before Firefox!), and many other products that we take for granted today began to explode. I was constantly frustrated as an IT project manager that the senior management decision makers in most organizations not only didn't understand the value that open source software had to offer to the organization, but further seemed to be vehemently against it. Whether this resistance was due to misunderstanding, lack of technical awareness, or more nefarious things (many of my colleagues believed that it was more about which large company was paying for the golf games and trips), it was clear that the problem was not technical in nature.

I embarked on my Master's studies in technology and innovation management in order to study the management side of things and better understand the reasons behind the divide between business and technical realities. This research eventually lead to my doctoral research at the Schulich School of Business where I focused on using traditional strategic management theories that are grounded in economics and behavioral theories of organizations to explain the value of using open source strategies under certain conditions. Along the way, I have been fortunate to have been able to study and collaborate with many organizations and their contributors including Mozilla, OpenOffice.org, Eclipse, OpenStreetMap, CrisisCommons, and many others. I have been fortunate to have been invited to present my research at conferences including the Free Software and Open Source Symposium, the Free and Open Source Software Learning Center, the Academy of Management, and the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada. If you'll permit me to say this a bit tongue-in-cheek, I now fluently speak both "MBA Speak" and "Engineering Speak" and can readily translate between the two. I teach courses in strategic management and international business at the Schulich School of Business, and I am involved in entrepreneurship incubators and the mentorship of the next generation of business and technology leaders coming out of both the business and engineering schools at York University.

Tell us about TIM Review. What topics does the journal cover and what is its target audience?

First published in 2007, the TIM Review is an open access journal that "brings together diverse viewpoints—from academics, entrepreneurs, companies of all sizes, the public sector, the community sector, and others—to bridge the gap between theory and practice." The journal provides insightful content about the issues and emerging trends relevant to launching novel technology businesses and growing existing ones. Its focus lies at the intersection of technology and business with a particular interest in providing accounts of innovative business models and novel organizational forms along with the theories, strategies, and tools that enable organizations of all sizes to succeed.

Technology management professionals look to the journal for practical ideas they can apply to improve their strategic management work in for-profit and not-for-profit organizations alike. The conciseness of the articles allows readers to quickly absorb the high-impact implications and lessons learned from leading academics, entrepreneurs, organizations of all sizes, the public sector, and diverse communities. The result is a bridging of the gap between theory and practice that are often disconnected in other management journals.

What is your vision for the TIM Review issue you are editing?

For more than 20 years, organizations of all sizes, both those involved in technology and those in other industries, have used open source strategies in one way or another in their business models. By "open source strategy," I mean a strategy that is built around and dependent upon a system of production that brings together participants both from within and outside the organization to produce a valuable good that remains readily available to all.

The academic literature on strategic management has no clear explanation for this phenomenon. Instead, there is still an assumption that "giving things away is bad for business". With Fortune 500 firms like Google, IBM, and many others investing hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of financial and human capital into open source projects, even the popular press has begun to wonder why they would choose to use open source strategies when at first glance such strategies seem to undermine the firms' competitive advantage by allowing imitation by competitors (See the discussion at Forbes about Google and Mozilla for one perspective.)

The reality is that open source strategies are not new and are distinct from what we have traditionally called "participation" in open source projects. We know a lot about why individuals and organizations use open source products. But, we don't know much about how organizations can develop, implement, and sustain a competitive open source strategy. Traditional organizational and knowledge boundaries get blurred and the concept of lateral instead of vertical authority is difficult for many practicing strategic managers to grasp. The vision of this Special Issue of the TIM Review is to showcase how organizations have actually implemented their open source strategies in practice, both to sharpen our theoretical understanding of how open source strategies work, and to provide real-world examples of the successes and failures of different ways of implementing these strategies. The intent is to highlight both the breadth of possible different open source strategies and to examine innovative models in more depth in order to better understand how they can be adapted to different organizations and different industries.

Who would you like to contribute to your Open Source Strategy issue? What kind of articles are you looking for?

We would like to invite entrepreneurs, strategic managers, and top-managers who currently are or have been in organizations (not necessarily for-profit) that are implementing some sort of open source strategy. We're interested in articles that describe what the open source strategy looks like, the motivation for its selection, how it has evolved and changed over time, the nature of the open source strategy's connection to the organization's overall business model, along with details about successes, failures, and lessons learned along the way.

We would like to get a broad cross-section of open source strategies so we are particularly interested in creative and novel models that lend to interesting stories. We would also like to invite academic researchers who study open source, strategic management, business models, and related areas to contribute articles on recent advances in our theoretical understanding of open source strategy and open source business models, particularly if they would like to report on recent research conducted with organizations involved in open source communities, or research directly on open source communities themselves.

How can interested readers contribute and what are the deadlines in the submission schedule?

Interested contributors should start by reviewing the Author Guidelines for the TIM Review. The guidelines will assist authors in translating their expertise and experiences into a focused article. An article template is provided to assist authors in structuring their submissions.

Our tentative schedule is as follows:

  • December 1st (or ASAP after): Receive emails from authors expressing interest in submitting articles.
  • December 15th: Short abstracts of articles due.
  • January 15th: Full articles due.

Interested contributors can express interest or address any questions either to myself (mekki@yorku.ca) or to Chris McPhee, Editor-in-Chief of the TIM Review.

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Joshua Allen Holm
Joshua Allen Holm -