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What do we have in common? Collaboration between heterogeneous organizations to develop a common infrastructure

26 September 2019 at 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Room 205b, Campus on Viale Romania, 32

Speaker: Hans Berends , Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


Jochem Hummel, Hans Berends, Philipp Tuertscher

This study explains how organizations with heterogeneous backgrounds and interests work together to develop a novel infrastructure of technical and organizational common resources intended to facilitate further collaboration between them. We report on a longitudinal case study of Helix Nebula – Europe’s leading initiative to build a federated commercial-science cloud computing infrastructure involving “big science” (CERN, EMBL, ESA) and “big business” organizations, small- and medium-sized firms, and public e-infrastructure providers. We develop a process model that explains how development progresses by collaborators forking into micro-alliances to allow for differences to play out, and merging at a later moment to deal with dependencies between them. Such iterations of forking and merging occurred in cooperation and in conflict. Despite conflict, collaboration did not disintegrate, because cooperation on organizational resources enabled organizations to tolerate conflict in the development of technical resources. We discuss contributions to the literatures on interorganizational collaboration and digital infrastructures.