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Coordination Dynamics in Free/Libre and Open Source Software


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Doctoral consortium presentation for OSS 2009 in Skövde, Sweden.

Doctoral consortium presentation for OSS 2009 in Skövde, Sweden.

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  • 1. Coordination Dynamics in Free/Libre Open Source Software Development Andrea Wiggins Syracuse University iSchool 3 June, 2009
  • 2. Introduction
    • Coordination comprises activities through which interdependencies are managed
    • Key challenge for decentralized, independent virtual work, but FLOSS seems to do this well
      • A variety of mechanisms are used to reduce interdependencies
  • 3. Motivation
    • Coordination in virtual teams poses different challenges from face-to-face
    • Coordination mechanisms are not applied in isolation, but employed in combination as coordination strategies
      • May represent common good solutions to general organizing problems in FLOSS
      • Stages of development likely to affect dynamics of coordination strategies
  • 4. General Research Question
    • How does project growth affect the social and technical structuring of work through coordination strategies ?
      • Project growth has multiple aspects: code & community
      • Coordination is achieved through multiple social and technical mechanisms
  • 5. Specific Research Question
    • How do the dynamics of the relationship between the size of the core committer group and the size of the code base affect technical coordination through code modularity and social coordination through self-assignment to tasks in community-based FLOSS projects ?
      • Growth : core committer group and code base size
      • Coordination : code modularity, self-assignment
      • Process : dynamics
      • Population : community-based FLOSS projects
  • 6. Conceptual Framework
    • P1: As size of code base and core committer group increase, code modularity increases.
    • P2: As size of code base and core committer group increase, self-assignment to tasks increases.
    • P3: As code modularity increases, self-assignment to tasks increases.
  • 7. Methodology
    • Longitudinal multiple case study methodology using mixed methods
      • Correlational analysis on archival data
      • Qualitative narratives of coordination dynamics, drawn from content analysis
      • Replication and extension of Crowston et al. 2005
    • Effort required for manual content analysis constrains sample size
  • 8. Case Selection
    • Community-based projects
      • Same type of software
        • Moderately complex
        • One primary package
      • Data available in repositories
    • No continuous release cycle projects
    • Minimum 10 developers, 18 months of data, 3 releases
  • 9. Data
    • Observation sampling of developer email lists
      • 3 weeks before and 1 week after each release: minimum 12 weeks of email/case
      • Email is a primary communication venue, can apply an established coding schema
    • Project statistics - FLOSSmole & SRDA
    • Code metrics - FLOSSmetrics
  • 10. Analysis
    • Content analysis according to established schema, compare findings to prior results
    • Test correlational measures of scale of coordination effort
    • Qualitative narratives of coordination dynamics: contextualize simple measures in evolving work practices
  • 11. Validity
    • Case selection bias improved by purposive sampling for success
    • Potential for measurement error from project statistics and code metrics
      • Simplistic but direct operationalizations
    • Limited sample restricts generalizability
      • Plan to test semi-automated coding to increase scale of content analysis
  • 12. Expected Contributions
    • Advance process theory to explain coordination strategies as an outcome of scale and interdependency of work
    • Reproduce and extend prior work: Implement dynamic analysis of multiple coordination mechanisms
    • Evaluate claims of relationship between community size, code structure, work
  • 13. Outstanding Issues
    • Scale of content analysis
      • Semi-automated coding may help
    • Case selection - comparable software
    • Other coordination mechanisms
      • Cannot control for them in case selection
      • May emerge as important factors
    • Code modularity/complexity
      • Limitation of single package software
  • 14. Completed activities
    • Candidacy exams: December 4, 2009
    • Proposal defense: no earlier than May 2010
    • Different dissertation topic is likely
      • Massive virtual collaboration in citizen science
      • This study will be post-PhD work
  • 15. Thanks!
    • [email_address] .edu