IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Explaining leadership in virtual teams: The case of open source software

Listed author(s):
  • Giuri, Paola
  • Rullani, Francesco
  • Torrisi, Salvatore

This paper contributes to the open source software (OSS) literature by investigating the likelihood that a participant becomes a project leader. Project leaders are key actors in a virtual community and are crucial to the success of the OSS model. Knowledge of the forces that lead to the emergence of project managers among the multitude of participants is still limited. We aim to fill this gap in the literature by analyzing the association between the roles played by an individual who is registered with a project, and a set of individual-level and project-level characteristics. In line with the theory of occupational choice elaborated by (Lazear, E.P., 2002. Entrepreneurship. NBER Working Paper No. 9109, Cambridge, Mass; Lazear, E.P., 2004. Balanced skills and entrepreneurship, American Economic Review 94, pp. 208-211), we find that OSS project leaders possess diversified skill sets which are needed to select the inputs provided by various participants, motivate contributors, and coordinate their efforts. Specialists, like pure developers, are endowed with more focused skill sets. Moreover, we find that the degree of modularity of the development process is positively associated with the presence of project leaders. That result is consistent with the modern theory of modular production (Baldwin, C.Y., Clark, K.B., 1997. Managing in an age of modularity. Harvard Business Review September-October. pp. 84-93; Mateos-Garcia, J., Steinmueller, W.E., 2003. The Open Source Way of Working: A New Paradigm for the Division of Labour in Software Development? SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Studies. Open Source Movement Research INK Working Paper, No. 1; Aoki, M., 2004. An organizational architecture of T-form: Silicon Valley clustering and its institutional coherence. Industrial and Corporate Change 13, pp. 967-981).

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Information Economics and Policy.

Volume (Year): 20 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 305-315

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:20:y:2008:i:4:p:305-315
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Edward P. Lazear, 2005. "Entrepreneurship," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 649-680, October.
  2. Edward P. Lazear, 2004. "Balanced Skills and Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 208-211, May.
  3. Masahiko Aoki & Gregory Jackson, 2008. "Understanding an emergent diversity of corporate governance and organizational architecture: an essentiality-based analysis -super-1," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 1-27, February.
  4. Juan Mateos Garcia & W. Edward Steinmueller, 2003. "The Open Source Way of Working: a New Paradigm for the Division of Labour in Software Development?," SPRU Working Paper Series 92, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:iepoli:v:20:y:2008:i:4:p:305-315. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.