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Personal And Social Proximity: Shaping Leadership In A Free Software Project


  • Clement Bert-Erboul

    (University of Campinas)

  • Nicholas S. Vonortas

    (National Research University Higher School of Economics)


Open software projects are usually portrayed by focusing on charismatic leaders, friendly communities, and meritocratic language. We dig under the surface of this stereotypical picture and analyse the social relationships of the people involved; specifically, whether they are related through personal proximity or they are distant social partners. We contribute to the literature on free/open source innovation in three ways. First, we highlight the continuum of roles played by individual leaders in the open source project, as brokers and/or initiators. Second, we delve deeper in the social networks of the Videolan software community to layout where and how leaders are organised in groups and play the role of brokers and initiators. We study leadership emergence over time by taking into account the context of activities. Finally, we produce a typology of three Videolan communities with specific social networks that evolved over time in terms of leaders and social structure

Suggested Citation

  • Clement Bert-Erboul & Nicholas S. Vonortas, 2018. "Personal And Social Proximity: Shaping Leadership In A Free Software Project," HSE Working papers WP BRP 84/STI/2018, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:84sti2018

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Open source; community; leadership; social network; proximity; computer software;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D90 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - General
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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