This thesis aims to understand how innovation can happen in a global virtual network.
A body of literature concerning knowledge and geography has stated that innovative firms seem to be clustered. This seems to prevail even though new technology is made available, that eases long distance communication. Several reasons are put forward as explanations for this tendency.
Firstly, it is argued that the local environments enable the diffusion of tacit knowledge, while this is hard, if at all possible, to achieve in a global network. Secondly, trust is seen to be important in collaboration and it is argued that this is hard to achieve without physical proximity. Thirdly, it is argued that the existence of ‘buzz’ is essential ininnovation processes, and this is by the majority of this literature viewed as a local phenomenon. And finally such a network needs strong coordination and governancemechanisms that may be hard to achieve in global networks. Thus, geographical proximity has been viewed as a necessity for innovative collaboration by a number of authors.
Another body of literature has, however, offered alternative relational proximities as possible substitutes or complements to geographical proximity. In this thesis I will discuss how tacitknowledge is being diffused, how trust is built, how ‘buzz’ is exchanged and how the global network is coordinated. I will do this under the headings of alternative relational proximities. This will be cognitive proximity, social proximity and institutional proximity.
To study this I have chosen to look at an open source community called Koha, which develops and delivers a full featured library system which now is running in many libraries around the world.