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Hierarchy in Meritocracy : Community Building and Code Production in The Apache Software Foundation

Author: Castaneda, O.F.
Mentor: Van Eeten, M.J.G. · Scholten, V.E. · Van Wendel de Joode, R.
Faculty:Technology, Policy and Management
Department:Policy, Organization, Law and Gaming
Programme:Management of Technology
Type:Master thesis
Keywords: open source · self-organization · institutionalization · management of innovation · management of technology · software management
Rights: (c) 2010 Castaneda, O.F.


This research is about code production in top-level open source communities of The Apache Software Foundation (ASF). We extensively analyzed Subversion repository logs from 70 top-level Apache open source projects in the ASF from 2004 to 2009. Based on interactions in code production during one-year periods we constructed networks of file co-authorship that gave us access to the organization of Apache open source communities. This allowed us to measure graph level properties, like hier- archy and clustering, and their influence on the outputs of code production.
Apache communities are groups of individuals that organize their code production efforts in order to develop enterprise-grade open source software. The ASF explains the success of its communities and the software they produce by claiming to have instituted a meritocracy that brings contributors together in a way that significantly influences code production, namely by building communities instead of only focusing on technical properties of the source code like modularity. Self-organization theory has found that the role of institutions is minor. In this research we test and confirm the theory of self-organization, and find that the meritocracy institution does not influence code production.

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