Revitalising Openness at Mozilla: A Mixed Method Research Approach

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Case Study—This is a case about how Mozilla, the open source browser company, set out to reconnect with ‘collaborating in the open’ to regain its competitive advantage. This case describes how a multi-disciplinary research team used ethnographic, market, and data analysis to articulate and clarify the problem, and build a strategy towards revitalizing Openness at Mozilla. It will aim to prove that the subsequent change achieved could only have been accomplished by a mixed method research approach. And importantly show, how the team used data to prove the distribution of findings, coupled with ethnography to shine light on the why and how of those findings. The case study will do this by discussing the key insights and how these fueled recommendation and subsequent change in the organisation.

The project presented many problems: from convincing stakeholders of the need to fully explore the problem, to connecting widely different research methods and gleaning insights that built strongly on all strands of research. Overcoming these issues together, the team managed to outlay the key problems and opportunities for Mozilla and build a strategy which has affected real change in the company and is now being implemented by a team of 20 employees. We call this strategy Open by Design. Which, to us, means being open, purposefully.

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