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Organized Anarchies and the Network Dynamics of Decision Opportunities in an Open Source Software Project

Organized Anarchies and the Network Dynamics of Decision Opportunities in an Open Source Software Project

Lomi, Alessandro, Conaldi, Guido ORCID: 0000-0003-3552-7307 and Tonellato, Marco (2012) Organized Anarchies and the Network Dynamics of Decision Opportunities in an Open Source Software Project. In: Lomi, Alessandro and Harrison, J. Richard, (eds.) The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty. Research in the Sociology of Organizations (36). Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, Yorkshire, UK, pp. 363-397. ISBN 9781780527123 ISSN 0733-558X (doi:https://doi.org/10.1108/S0733-558X(2012)0000036004)

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Abstract

When considered as organized solutions to problems of provision of public goods, Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) productions share a number of their defining features with the organized anarchies described by Cohen, March and Olsen in their “Garbage Can Model” (GCM). The open and voluntary contribution of software developers creates constant fluctuations in levels of attention and an extremely fluid participation. The lack of predefined hierarchical access to organizational problems determines a fundamental uncertainty about how collective goals may be linked to individual activities, and in how responsibilities and tasks may be allocated efficiently within the project. Finally, the complexity involved in the collective production of tens of thousands of lines of computer code without explicit coordination creates a situation of technological ambiguity supported by a radically decentralized activity of organizational problem finding and problem solving. In this paper we take these broad similarities as point of departure to specify an empirical model that captures some of the garbage can properties of organizational problem-solving activities in the context of a specific F/OSS project followed throughout a complete release cycle. We examine the interconnected system of individual decisions emerging from problem-solving activities performed by the 135 contributors involved in the F/OSS project on the 719 software bugs reported during the period of observation. We treat the evolving two-mode network produced by encounters between carriers of organizational solutions (contributors) and organizational problems (software bugs) as a dynamic opportunity structure that constrains and enables organizational decision making. We document how stable local configurations linking problems and solutions are induced by – and at the same time sustain – decentralized problem-solving activities with meaningful self-organizing properties.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: [2] Published as: Alessandro Lomi, Guido Conaldi, Marco Tonellato (2012), Organized Anarchies and the Network Dynamics of Decision Opportunities in an Open Source Software Project, in Alessandro Lomi, J. Richard Harrison (ed.) The Garbage Can Model of Organizational Choice: Looking Forward at Forty (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 36), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 363-397. [3] 978-1-78052-712-3 (Print): 978-1-78052-713-0 (eISBN).
Uncontrolled Keywords: two-mode networks, exponential random graphs, Free/Open Source Software, Garbage Can Model, organizational problem solving
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA76 Computer software
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Business > Department of Systems Management & Strategy
Faculty of Business > Centre for Business Network Analysis (CBNA)
Faculty of Business > Networks and Urban Systems Centre (NUSC) > Centre for Business Network Analysis (CBNA)
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2019 16:48
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/8953

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