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The institutions of open source software: examining the Debian community

By Juan Mateos-Garcia and W. Edward Steinmueller


Free and open source software activities involve and, perhaps, evolve institutions (rules, norms and standards) that influence the formation, growth, and demise of communities. Community institutions are attractors for some individuals while discouraging other individuals from entering or continuing to participate. Their suitability may change as a community grows. This paper examines the institutions of the Debian community where issues of community identity, distribution of authority, and decentralisation have facilitated growth and development. These same institutions have also resulted in conflicts regarding community purposes and the quality and delivery of the community’s output. We examine the institutional redesign undertaken to address these problems and derive implications for F/LOS communities and companies

Topics: N215 Change and Innovation
Year: 2008
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2008.06.001
OAI identifier:

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