[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]
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!
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.,
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
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
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
Social science: Understanding organizational and psychological issues in
• Diversity and international participation in FLOSS projects
• Learning, knowledge sharing, collaboration, control or conflict in
• 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,
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,
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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