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Informal hierarchies and cooperation in self-organising teams: empirical evidence from Free/Open Source software development communities

Informal hierarchies and cooperation in self-organising teams: empirical evidence from Free/Open Source software development communities

Conaldi, Guido (2010) Informal hierarchies and cooperation in self-organising teams: empirical evidence from Free/Open Source software development communities. In: XVII World Congress of Sociology, 11-17 Jul 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

I examine the role of informal hierarchies in fostering collaboration in self-organising communities by analysing communication networks among members of communities involved in Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) projects. I document structural properties of the hierarchy both emerging from and being influenced by the self-assignment of community members to tasks. Furthermore, I analyse the interaction between the emergent organisational hierarchy and the network of actual collaboration developed by the community members. F/OSS communities are formed by groups of software developers, who communicate mainly over the internet and collaborate to the production of software products. F/OSS communities may be conceived as natural experiments on the emergence of social structure out of network interaction as virtually no exogenous hierarchy is imposed on production teams. I reconstruct the structure of communication networks by harvesting the official development mailing lists of selected projects. Contributions to collective code bases and to the bug tracking repositories are used to reconstruct collaboration networks and task assignment. In the analysis I control for a variety of sources of individual heterogeneity in production and communication activities. The objective of the study is to investigate whether status-based informal hierarchies generated by local communication patterns influence the productive goals of selected communities through the stabilisation of task assignment and collaboration networks. If in these contexts informal hierarchical structures represent a viable option in order to reduce complexity and facilitate the internal assignment of tasks, it is expected that a balance has to be stricken not to hinder the flexibility and potential for knowledge recombination characteristic of flatter team structures.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] This paper was presented at the XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology. Sociology on the Move, held from 11-17 July 2010 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Uncontrolled Keywords: informal hierarchies, collaboration, Open Source software, social network analysis, stochastic actor-based models
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Centre for Business Network Analysis
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:14
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/5327

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