Why are There Only Two Research Groups Working on Inner Source?

I got asked the other day why there are only two research groups working on inner source world-wide. Inner source is the use of open source best practices within companies, and it is a hot topic with many companies who want to go beyond agile. There was varied research around the world in the past 15 years, but only two groups really have been consistently working on this: Brian’s group at LERO and my research group at FAU.

Inner source research is hard, and I guess this is the main reason. It is hard, because

  • the principal investigator needs to gain access to companies who are willing to share critical process data with the researchers—this can take a long time, and
  • inner source is a process efficiency matter and doesn’t directly contribute to more competitive products, so companies are less easily willing to pay for the research.

I think there are more reasons, but these two may be the two most important ones. In any case, I expect this to be changing as inner source gains a stronger foothold in software development organizations.

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