On Company Contributions to Community Open Source Software Projects

Simon Butler, Jonas Gamalielsson, Bjorn Lundell, Christoffer Brax, Johan Sjoberg, Anders Mattsson, Tomas Gustavsson, Jonas Feist, Erik Lonroth
2019 IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering  
The majority of contributions to community open source software (OSS) projects are made by practitioners acting on behalf of companies and other organisations. Previous research has addressed the motivations of both individuals and companies to engage with OSS projects. However, limited research has been undertaken that examines and explains the practical mechanisms or work practices used by companies and their developers to pursue their commercial and technical objectives when engaging with
more » ... en engaging with OSS projects. This research investigates the variety of work practices used in public communication channels by company contributors to engage with and contribute to eight community OSS projects. Through interviews with contributors to the eight projects we draw on their experiences and insights to explore the motivations to use particular methods of contribution. We find that companies utilise work practices for contributing to community projects which are congruent with the circumstances and their capabilities that support their short-and long-term needs. We also find that companies contribute to community OSS projects in ways that may not always be apparent from public sources, such as employing core project developers, making donations, and joining project steering committees in order to advance strategic interests. The factors influencing contributor work practices can be complex and are often dynamic arising from considerations such as company and project structure, as well as technical concerns and commercial strategies. The business context in which software created by the OSS project is deployed is also found to influence contributor work practices.
doi:10.1109/tse.2019.2919305 fatcat:yhn5y3xvbja65of3jq237ovhby