Institute for Software Research
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University


When Cultures Clash: Participation in
Open Source Communities and Its Implications
for Organizational Commitment

Sherae Daniel*, Likeobe Maruping**,
Marcelo Cataldo, James D. Herbsleb

May 2011


Keywords: Open source software, organizational commitment, organizational-professional conflict

Software applications developed within the OSS community have enjoyed tremendous success and for-profit organizations are keen to tap into this significant pool of software development talent. These companies seek to benefit from the talent of a global and sometimes voluntary workforce by paying some employees to contribute to OSS projects. This merging of open and traditional software development may cause developer stress based on conflicting OSS community and traditional software development norms. Specifically, developers must balance company intellectual property concerns with the reciprocal and community-based norms that drive OSS development. When these values are not in sync, contributors that aim to abide by conflicting values may exhibit dysfunctional attitudes. Employee stress with respect to their role can be destructive to organizational outcomes. This study develops an OSS context specific model that describes the relationship between clashing software development cultures and employee organizational commitment. We leverage the rich OSS literature and the research that focuses on organizational-professional conflict (OPC) to develop hypotheses linking clashing cultures and organizational commitment. These hypotheses are tested using a combination of archival data and a survey of 127 GNOME developers. The findings presented in this paper contribute to OSS literature and offer findings that will enable organizations to more successfully engage OSS communities.

16 pages

*Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh
**Computer Information Systems Department, College of Business, University of Louisville

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