Knowledge Reuse in Open Source Software: An Exploratory Study of 15 Open Source Projects

TitleKnowledge Reuse in Open Source Software: An Exploratory Study of 15 Open Source Projects
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2006
Authorsvon Krogh, G, Spaeth, S, Haefliger, S
Secondary TitleProceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
Date Published2006
Place PublishedBig Island, HI, USA
Keywordscvs, email, knowledge reuse, lines of code, loc, source code, Survey

To date, there is no investigation of knowledge reuse in open source software projects. This paper focuses on the forms of knowledge reuse and the factors impacting on them. It develops a theory drawn from data of 15 open source software projects and finds that the effort to search, integrate and maintain external knowledge influences the form of knowledge to be reused. Implications for firms and innovation research are discussed.


"In a first step, we asked developers of different open source projects to respond to a very short web-based survey."...
"In a second step, we started with gathering data from 15 projects, including interviews. In parallel, the source code, CVS comments and to a certain extent email communication was analyzed to receive a dynamic, and within the limits of the method, complete picture of knowledge reuse practices."
"Projects included games (Adonthell, FlightGear, Xboard), text processing (Abiword), a GNU/Linux desktop (Xfce4), an instant messenger client (Miranda), fax software (HylaFAX), a content management system (Tiki/CMS Groupware), encryption software (OpenSSL), a collaborative music system (iRATE Radio), file sharing networks (GNUnet, Mnet, Freenet), a mailing list manager (Mailman), and an mp3 encoder (Lame)."
"Our data sources included interviews with key developers, source code, CVS comments, mailing lists and various Internet resources"

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