Tapajit Dey
and Brian Fitzgerald
Lero — The Irish Software Research Center

We are grateful to the InnerSource Commons Marketing Working Group and the Testers of the Pilot Survey for their generous support, and a big THANK YOU! to every Respondent of the Survey for participating.

Survey Objectives

Open Source has been a successful model for software development, with over 135M Open Source projects in existence and over 47M developers contributing to them (source: World of Code Dataset summary) across various platforms like GitHub, BitBucket, GitLab etc., and it continues to play an important role in the software industry, not only because of the high quality open source software products many of their products rely on, but also because organizations increasingly realize that open development approaches offer many benefits, including sustainability, scaling, and quality assurance. Hence, many organizations are trying to adopt the open source development practices within their boundaries, a practice that is known as InnerSource, since the term was coined by Tim O’Reilly.

In the past few years, InnerSource is gaining much attention from companies around the globe. In 2015, the InnerSource Commons community was founded by Danese Cooper from PayPal to help promote the practice across different organizations, and the community is growing ever since, with over 800 members in the InnerSource Commons Slack channel. This community of software professionals are experimenting with open source development practices to overcome the many barriers and challenges that exist in many software organizations.

The 2020 State of the InnerSource Survey was conducted as a checkpoint to assess how the InnerSource community is shaping up, what we have been doing right, and what aspects need improvement.

The goal of the survey was to address three main questions -

  1. What is the state of InnerSource adoption across different organizations?
  2. What factors influence the success of InnerSource adoption?
  3. What are the main obstacles for adopting InnerSource?

Since a number of studies (e.g. Key Factors, Adoption Book, Adoption Tutorial) already documented the Key Factors for InnerSource success in detail, we focused more on exploring the key motivations for contributors and the obstacles.

Survey Result

Currently, we only have results from Phase 1 of the Survey.

Site Organization:

The demographic profiles of the respondents and their organizations are listed in the corresponding tabs under the Demographics Menu on the Header of this page. The detailed results for InnerSource Adoption, Success Factors, Obstacles, and our respondents’ opinion on the InnerSource commons platform are listed in the corresponding tabs under the Detailed Results Menu on the Header.

A Quick Summary of the Results:


Most of the responses we got were from Europe and North Americas, predominantly Male, but with many different professional roles across all ages, working at companies of various sizes (2 - 400,000), mostly in Tech companies, but also from Banking & Finance.

InnerSource Adoption:

Our respondents reported a medium progress/success with InnerSource overall, and noted the main reasons for adoption were Removing Silos & Bottlenecks and Knowledge Sharing, and reported a measurable progress in the latter goal.

Success Factors:

Creating a sense of belonging by interacting with others with similar interests and the empowerment to fix defects (The third and fourth levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) were the key motivations for contribution, and people mostly contributed to the projects related to their work and/or the ones with significant value to the organization. Most of our respondents noted that the Management at their organization was fairly supportive of InnerSource, and also reported collaborating with colleagues outside of their group.


The biggest constraint noted by our respondents was lack of time, along with misconceptions about InnerSource among the employees, and legacy incentive and governance structures that do not value InnerSource contributions as much. They also highlighted a need for ensuring management support, community building, incentivization of InnerSource contributions, and encouraging people to open up their code for ensuring InnerSource success.

InnerSource Commons Platform:

People mostly find the InnerSource Commons platform useful, and we received a few ideas about further improvement (and the need of further outreach!).

The Good News: People are very much willing to recommend InnerSource to colleagues who are even outside their organization, and not a single Negative response on that !!!


We designed an online questionnaire using Google Forms targeting practitioners of InnerSource, which we advertised through the InnerSource Commons Slack channel and other social medias like LinkedIn & Twitter. A few responses were cleaned manually to correct spellings, remove unrelated answers, and coining common themes. The Survey Questions are available here. The refined data of the Survey responses is available here.

Plans for the Future

We’ll shortly be launching Phase 2 of the Survey, with a few refinement of the questions, ensuring everyone can access it (people from China can’t access Google Forms), and providing translations if needed.