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

The Open Source Way of Working: a New Paradigm for the Division of Labour in Software Development?

Listed author(s):

The interest the Open Source Software Development Model has recently raised amongst social scientists has resulted in an accumulation of relevant research concerned with explaining and describing the motivations of Open Source developers and the advantages the Open Source methodology has over traditional proprietary software development models. However, existing literature has often examined the Open Source phenomenon from an excessively abstract and idealised perspective of the common interests of open source developers, therefore neglecting the very important organisational and institutional aspects of communities of individuals that may, in fact, have diverse interests and motivations. It is the aim of this paper to begin remedying this shortcoming by analysing the sources of authority in Open Source projects and the hierarchical structures according to which this authority is organised and distributed inside them. In order to do so, a theoretical framework based on empirical evidence extracted from a variety of projects is built, its main concerns being the description and explanation of recruitment, enculturation, promotion and conflict resolution dynamics present in Open Source projects. The paper argues that 'distributed authority' is a principal means employed by such communities to increase stability, diminish the severity and scope of conflicts over technical direction, and ease the problems of assessing the quality of contributions. The paper also argues that distributed authority is principally derived from interpersonal interaction and the construction of trust between individuals drawn to the project by diverse interests that are mediated and moderated through participants' common interest in the project's successful outcome. The paper presents several conclusions concerning the governance of open source communities and priorities for future research.

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: no

Paper provided by SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex in its series SPRU Working Paper Series with number 92.

in new window

Length: 31 pages
Date of creation: 01 Jun 2003
Handle: RePEc:sru:ssewps:92
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Jubilee Building G08, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9SL

Phone: +44 (0)1273 686758
Fax: +44 (0)1273 685865
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

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. Josh Lerner & Jean Triole, 2000. "The Simple Economics of Open Source," NBER Working Papers 7600, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bruce Kogut & Anca Metiu, 2001. "Open-Source Software Development and Distributed Innovation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 248-264, Summer.
  3. Haas, Peter M., 1992. "Introduction: epistemic communities and international policy coordination," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(01), pages 1-35, December.
  4. Cowan, Robin & David, Paul A & Foray, Dominique, 2000. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 211-253, June.
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:sru:ssewps:92. 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: (Russell Eke)

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.