Förderjahr 2018 / Stipendien Call #13 / ProjektID: 3844 / Projekt: Essays on Communities
In this study, we proposed that the degree to which OSS community growth is attributable to efficient division of labor is (co-)determined by the degree of generalized reciprocal behaviour community members can assume from one another. In order to do that, we built on the insights that the norm of reciprocity can be used as a norm enforcement mechanism that replaces the authoritative task allocation that is more prone to commercial organizations and is absent in OSS communities. We tested our baseline and moderation predictions (i.e. boundary conditions) on the data from GitHub, examining what kind of reciprocal behavior performed by a project founder drives project's technical success (i.e. incoming code contributions).
Right now we are trying to find the right positioning of our study in comparison to the existing literature.
Earlier studies had under-explored this research question due to significant limitations: 1) they focused only at newbies' behavior in communities but did not focus on the long-term effects on their contribution, 2) they showed that there might be prerequisite mechanisms for efficient division of labor in communities (such as direct and indirect reciprocity) but did not test which one actually contributes to the project's growth. Our study picks up on where this discussion was left and sheds more light on how communities can be efficient providers of innovative solutions. In addition to the baseline investigation, we are also exploring the boundary conditions in order to be able to offer some hindsight on which communities can be more efficient than others and why.
The next step requires more nuanced theory writing in order to emphasize our study's benefits and contributions to the Organizational Theory field.