Managing Conflicts in Open Source Communities

TitleManaging Conflicts in Open Source Communities
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
Authorsvan de Joode, RW
Secondary TitleElectronic Markets
Keywordsabiword, apache, conflict, covalent, interviews, organizational sponsorship, Volunteers

An increasing number of companies adopt open source software. These companies will typically pay programmers to participate in the design, development and maintenance of open source software. The programmers, however, are reported to have different interests compared to the voluntary programmers who dominate most open source communities. The diversity of interest will inevitably result in conflicts. To ensure that their interests are achieved, companies should understand how conflicts between their programmers and the voluntary programmers can be managed. The aim of this paper is to identify and discuss mechanisms that are currently present to manage conflicts in open source communities.

The mechanisms identified in this paper are based on an explorative literature study and on 48 semi-structured interviews with programmers from a variety of open source communities. Four mechanisms have been identified and their relevance in the management of conflicts are discussed. They are: third-party intervention; modularity; parallel software development lines; and the exit option. The paper ends with an example of Covalent, which deploys parallel software development lines to manage conflicts in the Apache community.

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