The open source model provides a valuable framework for collective knowledge production and dissemination. Open knowledge networks and other cooperative strategies (classified as open source discovery initiatives) are enabling biopharmaceutical companies to access disembodied knowledge-based resources critical to downstream drug development. The objective of these cooperative strategic alliances is to preserve the downstream technological opportunities for multiple firms. When upstream discovery research cannot yield commercial products and when the costs associated with excessive upstream competition are too high, companies jointly benefit from cooperative knowledge production and open knowledge dissemination. An analysis of 39 open source initiatives (consortia) provides us with information on: the likely participants in such initiatives, the focus of knowledge production activities, the characteristics of the knowledge generated, and the management of joint knowledge assets. Based on this analysis, we use game models to understand the decision to participate in such strategic alliances better. Our game models provide a simple but elegant framework for understanding the impact of changing knowledge structures on the payoffs associated with cooperation and defection in knowledge production, and therefore on behaviour.
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