Self-organization of teams for free/libre open source software development

Kevin Crowston, Qing Li, Kangning Wei, U. Yeliz Eseryel, James Howison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Scopus citations


This paper provides empirical evidence about how free/libre open source software development teams self-organize their work, specifically, how tasks are assigned to project team members. Following a case study methodology, we examined developer interaction data from three active and successful FLOSS projects using qualitative research methods, specifically inductive content analysis, to identify the task-assignment mechanisms used by the participants. We found that 'self-assignment' was the most common mechanism across three FLOSS projects. This mechanism is consistent with expectations for distributed and largely volunteer teams. We conclude by discussing whether these emergent practices can be usefully transferred to mainstream practice and indicating directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)564-575
Number of pages12
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2007


  • Coordination
  • Distributed teams
  • Free/libre open source software development
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Self-organizing teams
  • Task assignment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications


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