Inter-firm software development: the case of mobile work machines

Antti Rantala, Helena Kortelainen, Josu Takala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Software plays an essential role in the transition towards automation and autonomous work machines. The role of small specialist companies has increased, as even large original equipment manufacturers do not have the necessary skills and know-how to develop complex products without external help. This study investigated companies’ views in the mobile work machine domain concerning inter-firm software development. The objective of the study was to explore companies’ willingness to co-develop software with other companies in contractual alliances or joint ventures and to identify the main benefits, risks and enablers concerning inter-firm software development. The results indicate that the companies were interested in inter-firm software development via both governance models, but contractual alliances were a more preferable model among the interviewees. The key benefits of inter-firm software development were the possibilities to increase the speed and creativity of the development processes while sharing development costs. The main risks in inter-firm software development were the possibility of becoming too dependent on the partner and the risk of failing to create enough value to cover the collaboration costs. The key enablers for inter-firm software development included mutual trust, open knowledge sharing and precisely determined contracts about development costs and revenue sharing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-216
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Value Chain Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • business model
  • collaboration
  • contractual alliance
  • cooperation
  • inter-firm
  • joint venture
  • mobile work machines
  • software development
  • strategic alliance governance model


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