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QualitätswissenschaftC3MM - Reifegradmodell für Unternehmens-Community-Zusammenarbeit

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OPENNEXT - Maturity Model for Company-Community Collaboration (C3MM)


Development of a Maturity Model for Company Community Collaboration (C3MM) to enable collaborative product creation in open source hardware (OSH) ecosystem.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are believed to be in an ideal position to take on a leading role in open source hardware transformation as key driver for socio-economic development all over the globe. By engaging with communities that engage in open design and OSH development, SMEs can grasp the opportunity of collaboratively creating user-centric, viable, and sustainable products through an open exchange of concepts and technical knowledge on digital platforms. These efforts will not only increase end-user participation in product creation but also reduce costs and risks, as well as guarantee sustainability in the long run.

Active collaboration between SMEs, fab labs and open design communities with various structural and hierarchical nature, despite having a huge potential, are however associated with numerous obstacles. An interdisciplinary consortium of research institutions and industrial partners have come together to explore the potential of collaborative product creation in OPENNEXT.

In our direction to transform collaborative product creation, the maturity model will help companies and communities to assess key capabilities of community collaboration and the level of sophistication in terms of maturity stage. Through systematic identification of weaknesses and opportunities, the model will provide a solid basis for strategic action towards more effective collaboration.


The main objective of this study is to develop a Maturity Model for Company-Community Collaboration that  allows to assess the current collaboration maturity level as well as provide the means to identify concrete strategic measures towards achieving a higher maturity stage. This will support the maximizing of economic, social, and sustainability benefits of company-community collaboration (C3). The study sub-objectives consist of:

  • Development of a theoretically sound and widely acceptable maturity model
  • To bridge the knowing-doing gap by providing support on developing and implementing a solid improvement plan
  • Continuous improvement and maintenance of the model

Collaboration model draft for C3 in an OSH ecosystem


As a starting point for this study, the depicted collaboration model draft serves as a baseline for the development of the C3MM. Based on Engeström's (1999) second generation Activity Theory (AT) model, it perceives the collaboration between SMEs and OSH community members as a set of interactive activities which take place in a dynamic ecosystem.

Explanation of the collaboration model draft

Each collaboration entity, first of all, consists of participants working in a community setting towards a shared outcome (see the three dimensions of the inner triangles). A set of concrete goals which integrates the outcome, the community, and its participants forms the inner circle of the model (depicted in yellow). The second circle (depicted in blue) marks the strategic layer which sets out governance and project management schemes. They integrate the division of roles and responsibilities, rules of how to collaborate, as well as the necessary physical and virtual tools (see the three dimensions of the outer triangles). All collaboration is embedded and guided by the outer layer: mindset and culture (depicted in red). On an interproject level, satellites and other connected projects orbit along the mindset and culture.

Methodological Approach

For the development of the model dimensions and assessment logic, a combination of a three-round e-Delphi study with co-creation workshops will be adopted. The e-Delphi study will consist of an expert panel with the following groups of participants:

  • Academia
  • Practicioners (from SMEs, community contributors, makers, etc.)
  • Specialists from the OSH ecosystem

The model will be populated and tested during OPENNEXT piloting and demonstration with up to 18 SMEs case studies, four makerspaces and corresponding user community members of each case.

Funding acknowledgement

The development of C3MM is funded as part of OPENNEXT, a research project funded by the research and innovation program of the European Commission Horizon 2020 under the grant agreement No. 869984 for a period of 36 months starting in September 2019. The consortium comprises 19 partners from seven European countries. The project is coordinated and managed by the Technische Universität Berlin (TUB) represented by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Roland Jochem as head of the Chair of Quality Science at the Institute of Machine Tools and Factory Management (IWF).


  • Engeström, Y. (1999) Innovative learning in work teams: analysing cycles of knowledge creation in practice, in: Y. ENGESTRÖM et al (Eds.) Perspectives on Activity Theory, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press), 377-406.

Related links

Project homepage: www.opennext.eu


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