To “survive” or to “innovate”? Decision rights configurations in open source projects

Poonacha Medappa, Shirish C. Srivastava

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Despite the widespread use of open source software (OSS) development, the governance of OSS projects continues to remain a challenge for both individuals and organizations. Grounding our work in the decision rights (DR) perspective, we posit that the OSS project governance involves two tradeoffs - between (a) formal and informal and (b) centralized and decentralized configurations of DR in OSS projects. Further, we theorize the mechanisms through which these DR configurations can have varying impacts on two OSS project outcomes, survival and creativity. Using data from 6,563 OSS projects hosted on GitHub and applying robust analytical and machine learning techniques, we find that decentralization of the DR, measured by the number of core contributors in the project, has a negative influence on the project’s survival but a positive influence on the project’s creativity. Formalization of the DR, measured through organizational ownership of the OSS project, moderates these relationships by enhancing the probability of OSS project survival and attenuating project creativity. Through this research, we show that the DR perspective offers a useful lens for theorizing the existence of different OSS project governance configurations for different desired outcomes. By examining these configurations, we advance the understanding of OSS project governance mechanisms and offer practitioners valuable insights for effectively managing OSS projects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2022


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