Transition of Governance in a Mature Open Software Source Community: Evidence from the Debian Case

Bert Sadowski, Gaby Sadowski-Rasters & Geert Duysters


As flourishing, productive open source software (OSS) communities mature, they have to introduce a variety of governance mechanisms to manage the participation of their members and to coordinate the launch of new releases. In contrast to other modes of governance of OSS communities, the Debian community introduced new mechanisms of informal administrative control based on a constitution, elected leaders and new functions attributed to interactive communication channels (like mailing lists or IRC channels) that can provide for community effects (and feedback). We show that these control mechanisms were introduced as a response to emerging innovative opportunities due the usage of source packages and heterogeneous learning processes by different groups within the Debian community,

Keywords: Open Source Software community, Governance Mechanism, Debian community Jel codes: 030

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872

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