Strategic Interaction and Knowledge Sharing in the KDE Developer Mailing List

TitleStrategic Interaction and Knowledge Sharing in the KDE Developer Mailing List
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsKuk, G
Refereed DesignationRefereed
Secondary TitleManagement Science
Pagination1031 - 1042
Date Published07/2006
ISSN Number1526-5501
Keywordsdevelopers, email, email archives, kde, knowledge collaboration, knowledge sharing, mailing list

In stark contrast with the fully participative "bazaar" imagery of open source software (OSS) development, some recent empirical research has pointed out that much of the OSS development is carried out by a small percentage of developers. This raises serious concerns that concentration of development effort on a few will limit knowledge sharing and underutilize the available resources. Using the notion of strategic interaction, this paper argues that individual developers often interact strategically with other highly resourceful developers by forming a smaller but better organized structure to intensify the types of epistemic interactions that matter most to the OSS development. A general framework of strategic interaction including participation inequality, conversational interactivity, and cross-thread connectivity is proposed to examine its impact on knowledge sharing, and validated using 128 discussion threads from the K Desktop Environment (KDE) developer mailing list. The findings indicate that strategic interaction has expanded knowledge sharing but with the caveat that extreme concentration of development could have an opposite effect. For researchers, this study dovetails the incentive logic by proposing and validating the strategic aspects of OSS participation to better understand the collective dynamics underpinning OSS development. Practitioners can use this approach to evaluate and better support existing knowledge-sharing initiatives.


"the threaded discussion from the K Desktop Environment (KDE) developer mailing list was used."
March 15 to March 31, 2000.
128 threads selected.
measures: (1) level of participation measured by number of postings made by indiv. devs in a thread
(2) conversational interactivity (how long is a conversation)
(3) cross-thread connectivity

Short TitleManagement Science
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