[clug] Story on "The Organizational Model for Open Source"

Steve Jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Sun Jul 20 14:18:23 EST 2003

>From the latest ACM Technews:

# "The Organizational Model for Open Source"
HBS Working Knowledge (07/07/03); Stark, Mallory

Harvard Business School professor Siobhan O'Mahony has made some
interesting conclusions about the open-source organizational model by
studying nonprofit foundations that have coalesced around a trio of
open-source software projects--the non-commercial Linux distribution
known as Debian, the GNU Object Model Environment (GNOME), and the
Apache public domain open-source Web server. O'Mahony takes note of a
contradictory phenomenon in that numerous open-source projects
coordinated by the hacker community--a group that values independence
and self-determination--have assimilated and erected nonprofit
foundations organized into committees with assigned functions. The
professor infers three major challenges the nonprofit agencies are
confronted with: The first is limited resources to accommodate legal
fees, conferences, or travel, although this problem is mitigated
somewhat by the foundations' primary reliance on electronic
communications. The second challenge is balancing the informal work
culture and conventions of hacker-style programming with the
predictability and formality of software release management. "People are
intimately aware of the fact that too much structure will disenfranchise
the very people who make the most successful open source projects
possible," O'Mahony explains. The third challenge lies in maintaining
pluralism in the administration of open-source software projects, which
can be complicated if open-source contributors distinguish each other
according to individual merit without acknowledging their employers.
Although O'Mahony is skeptical that the future of software development
will be determined by nonprofit foundations, she thinks that the
foundations will still have an important part to play.

More information about the linux mailing list