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Sun Microsystems: Driving Innovation through Open Strategies


Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Publication Year



In an influential 1997 white paper, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, Eric Raymond presented two distinct means for software development. The first, proprietary code, was the cathedral where "a few high priests laboured to write, test and debug code." The second, open source code was the bazaar, where "thousands of eyeballs from different point of view will quickly spot and fix bugs." In 1999 When Sun Microsystems unveiled Jini technology it wanted to create a "bazaar" for Jini development. However, while development in a "bazaar" would maximise Jini's speed of development and acceptance by the market, Sun needed to minimise its risk of losing the value created by the new technology. Bill joy, chief scientist, engineers a Jini development community to involve the best engineers both inside and outside of Sun while protecting Sun's interest through source code licensing. Sun's strategy enables it to access intellectual capital from multiple sources, establish a network of partners to develop Jini-enabled products and ensure Sun's ownership of a portion of the value created by Jini technology. The case raises questions regarding the boundaries and ownership of intellectual capital , value creation and the firm's ability to appropriate the value created and the use of a networked community for innovation.

Topic List

Strategics for Value Creation, Managing Innovation



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Publication Organisation Size

$15 billion in global revenue

Project Funder




Available on ECCH


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