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Explaining the Organization of Open Source Communities with the CPR Framework

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Van Wendel de Joode, Ruben
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1157
Sector: Information & Knowledge
Social Organization
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
open access
design principles
conflict resolution
intellectual property rights
Abstract: "This paper describes work-in-progress. It describes the background, research framework and some preliminary results from a PhD research on the organization of open source communities. Most open source communities are very small. However, some communities have become very popular and they connect thousands of predominantly highly skilled programmers from various parts of the world. Together these programmers create and maintain highly complex software. Wellknown examples of such communities are Apache and Linux. The software developed in open source communities has one very important characteristic: the source code of the software is open and freely available. "To many it is highly surprising that programmers in open source communities are able to create successful software. Two questions prevail, they are: a) how are open source communities able to deal with internal pressures like free-riding and cascading conflicts and b) how are they able to resist external pressures, created by parties who appropriate software through copyrights and patents? This paper addresses the question how programmers in open source communities organize and sustain themselves amidst these pressures. Ostroms (1990) eight design principles are adopted to answer this question. "The two most dominant conclusions from this research are: (a) individuals in open source communities are driven by individual choice and (b) formal mechanisms have a limited role in solving the issues addressed by the design principles. This article will analyze one design principle in more detail, namely the presence of conflict resolution mechanisms."

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