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PhD09_vanderGraaf

PhD09_vanderGraaf

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Published by: Shenja van der Graaf on Dec 10, 2010
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11/09/2011

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This chapter has woven together the empirical findings and discussed their
theoretical implications in the context of the user participation literature that is
associated specifically with traditions in media theory. By drawing upon the key aspects
of the conceptual framework for this study, the research findings were presented to
provide insight into the firm-hosted 3D platform as a participatory site underpinned by
particular firm-user dynamics in the context of product development. The investigation
of user participation in the commercial setting of the developer firm has emphasized
those relations that underlie within-firm and external resources, identifying, making up,
and leveraging multi-levelled aspects of what can be called a firm-hosted modification
culture
. The main points of the principal research findings have been summarized.
The findings have developed a richer and deeper understanding of user
participation on the firm-hosted platform
, highlighting variations among creative
capacities and contributions made to product development, guided by a firm-provided
design space whereby several functionalities provide a range of capabilities, allowing
for different user in- and outputs. In this view, this study has contributed a multimodal
rather than a unimodal perspective
on user participation in mod development practices
in the commercial setting of the developer firm. Furthermore, the analysis of the
structure and organization of user participation in terms of labour processes across
permeable firm boundaries indicated an entrepreneurial approach to product
development
underpinned by opportunities for competition and compensation to occur
among all contributing developers. As this study examined user participation on the
firm-hosted platform in a context of a networked organization of different players,
technologies, and knowledge, the term modification effect market was introduced to
identify this particular configuration between the developer firm and the user base in the
3D software context.

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The analysis has shown that product development is underpinned by centralized
and dispersed, commercial and non-commercial-related practices
, specific to user
participation on the firm-hosted platform. In this context, attention was drawn to the
role of several technical, artificial and legal aspects that enable, facilitate, and condition
user participation and user creativity in relation to the extent of mod development
opportunities associated with the Second Life product. The findings indicate that user
participation in firm-hosted mod development practices is limited in terms of
production, transferability, integration, usage, and compensation within and across
product boundaries. A delicate balance of user participation in the commercial setting of
the firm becomes apparent that is contingently generative, highlighting an open
approach to commercial mod development underpinned by a closed meaning
that
affects the development and organization of product development across firm
boundaries.

The interest of this study in detecting a learning dynamic between the developer
firm and users associated with product development, highlighted the developer firm’s
model of distributed learning, not only within the firm, but also with regard to firm-user
learning relationships. The findings showed that various knowledge loci exist from
which the firm may benefit. In addition, each communication locus seemed to represent
a particular subset with minimal overlap between mod developers supplying and
retrieving information. This suggests that multiple learning opportunities across firm
boundaries
are likely to unfold associated with user participation in product
development. Furthermore, the analysis of knowledge loci highlighted a centripetal
learning effect rather than a more linear model
suggesting that potential learning
dynamics seem to remain within the confined locus for mod development which is
likely to influence learning dynamics across firm boundaries. However, the findings
also pointed to an important drawback for the firm in the light of having access to
multiple knowledge loci for establishing learning opportunities. When the firm is
incapable of effectively dealing with potential learning moments, the firm risks failing
to learn. This may possibly endanger a transparent, effective, and trust-inducing
interdependent relationship between the developer firm and users
that underlies user
participation in firm-hosted mod development practices and it ultimately may even
stagnate product development.

The overarching contribution of this study rests in providing an understanding of

206

a redefined configuration of the relationship between firms associated with economic
production and users associated with free and/or social production involving product
development, or a consolidated life cycle, depicted by user participation in product
development practices on the firm-hosted Second Life platform.

207

Chapter 9Conclusion

Direct me
- Otis Redding200

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