[Air-L] [Fwd: Call for papers: Special issue of the Journal of the Association for Information Systems (JAIS) on Empirical Research on Free/Libre Open Source Software]

Gabriella Coleman biella at nyu.edu
Wed Jul 15 09:46:32 PDT 2009


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Call for papers: Special issue of the Journal of the 
Association for Information Systems (JAIS) on Empirical Research on 
Free/Libre Open Source Software
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2009 18:28:44 +0200
From: Kevin Crowston <crowston at syr.edu>
To: Gabriella Coleman <biella at nyu.edu>

Dear Gabriella Coleman,

We would also appreciate your sharing the call with students or 
colleagues who you think might be interested. Thanks!

Important dates

Deadline for articles 15 October 2009
Initial decisions by 15 January 2010
Revisions due 15 April 2010
Final decision by 15 July 2010

Call for papers: Special issue of the
Journal of the Association for Information Systems (JAIS)
Empirical Research on Free/Libre Open Source Software

Over the past decade, the Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) 
phenomenon has revolutionized the ways in which organizations and 
individuals create, distribute, acquire and use information systems and 
services, making it an increasingly important topic of research for 
information systems researchers. FLOSS has moved from a curiosity to the 
mainstream: it has become a useful instrument for educators and 
researchers, an important aspect of e-government and information society 
initiative and a consideration in all technology business plans (e.g., 
Fitzgerald 2006).

The apparent success of FLOSS development has challenged the 
conventional wisdom of the software and business communities about the 
best ways to develop and acquire software. The research literature on 
software development and on distributed work more generally emphasizes 
the difficulties of distributed software development (e.g., Herbsleb et 
al. 2000), but the apparent success of FLOSS development presents an 
intriguing counter-example. Characterized by a globally distributed 
developer force and a rapid and reliable software development process, 
effective FLOSS development teams somehow profit from the advantages and 
overcome the challenges of distributed work (Alhoet al. 1998). 
Traditional organizations have taken note of these successesand have 
sought ways of leveraging FLOSS methods for their own distributedteams. 
More broadly, FLOSS development provides a commonly referred to model 
for open collaboration, increasingly seen as a viable approach to 
community-based development of systems and information resources more 
generally. Thus, while in many ways unique, the distributed and 
self-organizing natureof FLOSS teams represents a mode of work that is 
increasingly common in many organizations.

As well, FLOSS development is an important phenomena deserving of study 
foritself (Feller 2001). FLOSS is an important commercial phenomenon 
involving all kinds of software development firms, large, small and 
startup. Millions of users depend on FLOSS systems such as Linux or 
Firefox, and the Internet is heavily dependent on FLOSS tools. These 
systems are an integral partof the infrastructure of modern society, 
making it critical to understand more fully how they are developed. 
Furthermore, FLOSS is an increasingly important venue for students 
learning about software development. However, researchers are just 
beginning to understand how people in these communities coordinate 
software development and the work practices necessary to their success.

Part of the challenge to researchers is that FLOSS is a complex 
phenomenon that requires an interdisciplinary understanding of its 
engineering, technical, economic, legal and socio-cultural dynamics. It 
is similar to many other phenomena (e.g., virtual teams, user 
innovation, distributed software engineering, voluntary organizations, 
social movements), without being exactly like any, making it difficult 
to identify and to apply relevant theories.Indeed, the term FLOSS 
includes groups with a wide diversity of participants and practices, 
with varying degrees of effectiveness, but the dimensionsof this space 
are still unclear. Empirically, the study of FLOSS is blessed with an 
abundance of certain kinds of “trace” data, generated throughthe 
everyday actions of developers. However, these data are limited to 
particular aspects of FLOSS work and are often difficult to connect to 
constructs of theoretical interest. As a result, research on FLOSS is in 
critical need of careful conceptualization and theorizing, with 
particular attentionto delineating the boundaries of theories in useful 
taxonomies of project types.

The growing research literature on FLOSS has addressed a variety of 
questions. First, numerous explanations have been proposed for why 
individuals decide to contribute to projects without pay (e.g., Bessen 
2002; Franck et al.2002; Hann et al. 2002; Hertel et al. 2003; Markus et 
al. 2000). These authors have mentioned factors such as increasing the 
usefulness of the software (Hann et al. 2004), personal interest (Hann 
et al. 2004), ideological commitment, development of skills (Ljungberg 
2000) with potential career impact (Hann et al. 2004) or enhancement of 
reputation (Markus et al. 2000). Further work in this area will need to 
distinguish between motivations for different kinds of projects and for 
developers with vastly different levels of commitment and contribution 
to a project and develop richer datasets of actual developer beliefs, 
intentions and behaviours. A methodological concern is developing valid 
samples of participants given the highly skewed distributions of activity.

Second, researchers have investigated the processes of FLOSS development 
(e.g., Raymond 1998; Stewart et al. 2002). Many of these studies have 
been done at the project level, e.g., using available data about 
project-level measures to predict success. These studies are often 
limited by the available data, which may only weakly reflect theoretical 
constructs of interest. Afew studies have been done at the level of 
individual developers, though many of the same concerns apply. For 
example, co-membership in projects can be viewed as a social network 
(e.g., Méndez-Durón et al. 2009), but strong theory is needed to 
interpret the network. On the other hand, since data are available 
longitudinally, there is an opportunity to perform strongertests of 
theory (e.g, Subramaniam et al. 2009). Fewer studies have grappled with 
the details of work practices within projects, in part because data 
about these practices are more difficult to identify, collect and 
analyze. Mainly Logs of email and other kinds of linguistic interactions 
are generally available, but are quite time consuming to analyze. As 
well, such studies reveal only the public face of developers’ actions, 
leaving their private work hidden. Still, detailed studies of FLOSS 
practices could be quite revealing for understanding this form of 
distributed work.

Third, researchers have examined the implications of FLOSS from economic 
and policy perspectives. For example, some authors have examined the 
implications of free software for commercial software companies or the 
implicationsof intellectual property laws for FLOSS (e.g., Di Bona et 
al. 1999; Kogut et al. 2001; Lerner et al. 2001). Lamastra (2009) found 
that FLOSS solutions developed by a sample of Italian companies were 
more innovative than the non-FLOSS solutions. Overall though, the nature 
and implications of participation of firms in FLOSS development are 
still open topics for research. Finally, a few authors have examined the 
use of FLOSS and its implementation in organizations. For example, 
Fitzgerald et al. (2003) examined the broad implementation of FLOSS in 
an Irish hospital. Implementation studies seem like a particularly 
promising area for information systems researchers, though such studies 
face a challenge to explicitly theorize about the relationship between 
the distinctive properties of FLOSS and the processes of implementation 
and use.

Example topics for the special issue

The research reviewed above, while extensive, is still just a starting 
point for understanding the phenomenon of FLOSS development and use. 
Papers areinvited for the special issue on any topic related to FLOSS 
development and use. Papers should be theory-driven or theory-building, 
with clear implications for further research and practice. Example 
topics include:

Social science: Understanding organizational and psychological issues in 
•    Diversity and international participation in FLOSS projects
•    Learning, knowledge sharing, collaboration, control or conflict in 
FLOSS projects
•    Dynamics of FLOSS project communities, building and sustaining
•    FLOSS historical foundations
•    FLOSS and social networks
•    FLOSS and social inclusion
•    Economic analysis of FLOSS
•    Knowledge management, e-learning and FLOSS

FLOSS systems development:
•    FLOSS and distributed development
•    Lessons from FLOSS for conventional development
•    Open sourcing vs. offshoring of development
•    FLOSS and standards
•    Mining and analyzing FLOSS project repositories
•    Documentation of FLOSS projects

Emerging perspectives: Lessons from FLOSS applied to other fields
•    Diffusion and adoption of FLOSS innovations
•    FLOSS and alternative intellectual property regimes
•    FLOSS, Open Science and "Open Knowledge"
•    Licensing, intellectual property and other legal issues in FLOSS
•    FLOSS and innovation
•    Economics of FLOSS

Studies of FLOSS deployment: Current studies and future issues
•    Case studies of FLOSS deployment, migration models, success and failure
•    FLOSS in the public sector (e.g., government, education, health care)
•    FLOSS in vertical domains and the 'secondary' software sector 
(e.g.,automotive, telecommunications, medical devices)
•    FLOSS-compatible IT governance architectures
•    FLOSS applications catalog (functionality, evaluation, platforms, 
support providers, training needs)
•    FLOSS education and training
•    FLOSS, e-government and transformational government
•    FLOSS business models and strategies

We particularly hope to receive papers that cut across these dimensions 
anduse the phenomenon of FLOSS to theorize about the evolving nature of 
technology-supported distributed work.


Alho, K., and Sulonen, R. "Supporting virtual software projects on the 
Web," in: Workshop on Coordinating Distributed Software Development 
Projects, 7th International Workshop on Enabling Technologies: 
Infrastructure for Collaborative Enterprises (WETICE ’98), Palo Alto, 
CA, USA, 1998.

Bessen, J. "Open Source Software: Free Provision of Complex Public 
Goods," in: Research on Innovation, 2002.

Di Bona, C., Ockman, S., and Stone, M. (eds.) Open Sources: Voices from 
theOpen Source Revolution. O'Reilly & Associates, Sebastopol, CA, 1999.

Feller, J. "Thoughts on Studying Open Source Software Communities," 
in:Realigning Research and Practice in Information Systems Development: 
The Social and Organizational Perspective, N.L. Russo, B. Fitzgerald and 
J.I. DeGross (eds.), Kluwer, 2001, pp. 379–388.

Fitzgerald, B. "The transformation of Open Source Software," MIS 
Quarterly (30:4) 2006.

Fitzgerald, B., and Kenny, T. "Open source software in the trenches: 
Lessons from a large-scale OSS implementation," International Conference 
on Information Systems, 2003.

Franck, E., and Jungwirth, C. "Reconciling investors and donators: The 
governance structure of open source," No. 8, Lehrstuhl für 
Unternehmensführung und -politik, Universität Zürich.

Hann, I.-H., Roberts, J., Slaughter, S., and Fielding, R. "Economic 
incentives for participating in open source software projects," the 
Twenty-Third International Conference on Information Systems, 2002, pp. 

Hann, I.-H., Roberts, J., and Slaughter, S.A. "Why developers 
participatein open source software projects: An empirical 
investigation," in: Twenty-Fifth International Conference on Information 
Systems, Washington, DC, 2004, pp. 821–830.

Herbsleb, J.D., Mockus, A., Finholt, T., and Grinter, R.E. "Distance, 
dependencies, and delay in a global collaboration," the 2000 ACM 
conference on Computer supported cooperative work, Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania, United States, 2000, pp. 319-328.

Hertel, G., Niedner, S., and Herrmann, S. "Motivation of software 
developers in Open Source projects: an Internet-based survey of 
contributors  to the Linux kernel," Research Policy (32), Jan 1 2003, pp 

Kogut, B., and Metiu, A. "Open-source software development and 
distributed innovation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy (17:2) 2001, 
pp 248–264.

Lamastra, C.R. "Software innovativeness: A comparison between 
proprietaryand Free/Open Source solutions offered by Italian SMEs," R\&D 
Management (39:2) 2009, pp 153--169.

Lerner, J., and Tirole, J. "The open source movement: Key research 
questions," European Economic Review (45) 2001, pp 819–826.

Ljungberg, J. "Open Source Movements as a Model for Organizing," 
European Journal of Information Systems (9:4) 2000.

Markus, M.L., Manville, B., and Agres, E.C. "What makes a virtual 
organization work?," Sloan Management Review (42:1) 2000, pp 13–26.

Méndez-Durón, R., and García, C.E. "Returns from Social Capital in Open 
Source Software Networks," Journal of Evolutionary Economics (19) 2009, 
pp 277–295

Raymond, E.S. "The cathedral and the bazaar," First Monday (3:3) 1998.

Stewart, K.J., and Ammeter, T. "An exploratory study of factors 
influencing the level of vitality and popularity of open source 
projects," the Twenty-Third International Conference on Information 
Systems, 2002, pp. 853–857.

Subramaniam, C., Sen, R., and Nelson, M.L. "Determinants of open source 
software project success: A longitudinal study," Decision Support 
Systems (46:2) 2009, pp 576--585.


Gabriella Coleman, Assistant Professor
Department of Media, Culture, & Communication
New York University
239 Greene St, 7th floor
NY NY 10003

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