What to share, when, and where: balancing the objectives and complexities of open source software contributions

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TY - JOUR

T1 - What to share, when, and where

T2 - balancing the objectives and complexities of open source software contributions

AU - Linåker, Johan

AU - Regnell, Björn

PY - 2020/8/12

Y1 - 2020/8/12

N2 - Context:: Software-intensive organizations’ rationale for sharing Open Source Software (OSS) may be driven by both idealistic, strategic and commercial objectives, and include both monetary as well as non-monetary benefits. To gain the potential benefits, an organization may need to consider what they share and how, while taking into account risks, costs and other complexities. Objective:: This study aims to empirically investigate objectives and complexities organizations need to consider and balance between when deciding on what software to share as OSS, when to share it, and whether to create a new or contribute to an existing community. Method:: A multiple-case study of three case organizations was conducted in two research cycles, with data gathered from interviews with 20 practitioners from these organizations. The data was analyzed qualitatively in an inductive and iterative coding process. Results:: 12 contribution objectives and 15 contribution complexities were found. Objectives include opportunities for improving reputation, managing suppliers, managing partners and competitors, and exploiting externally available knowledge and resources. Complexities include risk of loosing control, risk of giving away competitive advantage, risk of creating negative exposure, costs of contributing, and the possibility and need to contribute to an existing or new community. Conclusions:: Cross-case analysis and interview validation show that the identified objectives and complexities offer organizations a possibility to reflect on and adapt their contribution strategies based on their specific contexts and business goals.

AB - Context:: Software-intensive organizations’ rationale for sharing Open Source Software (OSS) may be driven by both idealistic, strategic and commercial objectives, and include both monetary as well as non-monetary benefits. To gain the potential benefits, an organization may need to consider what they share and how, while taking into account risks, costs and other complexities. Objective:: This study aims to empirically investigate objectives and complexities organizations need to consider and balance between when deciding on what software to share as OSS, when to share it, and whether to create a new or contribute to an existing community. Method:: A multiple-case study of three case organizations was conducted in two research cycles, with data gathered from interviews with 20 practitioners from these organizations. The data was analyzed qualitatively in an inductive and iterative coding process. Results:: 12 contribution objectives and 15 contribution complexities were found. Objectives include opportunities for improving reputation, managing suppliers, managing partners and competitors, and exploiting externally available knowledge and resources. Complexities include risk of loosing control, risk of giving away competitive advantage, risk of creating negative exposure, costs of contributing, and the possibility and need to contribute to an existing or new community. Conclusions:: Cross-case analysis and interview validation show that the identified objectives and complexities offer organizations a possibility to reflect on and adapt their contribution strategies based on their specific contexts and business goals.

KW - Community strategy

KW - Contribution strategy

KW - Open source software

KW - Requirements engineering

KW - Software product management

U2 - 10.1007/s10664-020-09855-2

DO - 10.1007/s10664-020-09855-2

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:85089299642

JO - Empirical Software Engineering

JF - Empirical Software Engineering

SN - 1573-7616

ER -