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How Open Source Is Changing the Software Developer's Career

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Abstract

Software developers with open source project experience acquire verifiable technical expertise, peer-certified competencies, and positional power--advantages that align with companies' need to obtain a competitive advantage.
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COMPUTER 0018-9162/15/$31.00 © 2015 IEEE PUBL ISHED B Y THE IEE E COMPU TER SOC IETY M AY 2 01 5 51
How Open Source
Is Changing
the Software
Developers Career
Open source software development is add-
ing skills to the labor market and oering
the promise of increased salaries and job
security to those with open source proj-
ect experience. This trend is not surprising, given that
open source software development has long overlapped
with the commercial world. For example, a 2012 Linux
Foundation study found that more than 75 percent of
the Linux kernel is being developed on company time or
with company sponsorship (http://go.linuxfoundation
.org/who- writes - li nux- 2012). A more recent i ndependent
study1 found th at about half of a ll code contributions a re
being performed Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5
pm, li kewise sug gesting paid work. Clea rly, t his grow ing
commercialization of open source is inuencing soft-
ware developer careers.
Moreover, the vast majority of successf ul open source
projects are community owned,2 and community open
source sof tware is embedded in nearly all commer-
cially relevant software today, open or closed source.
The Apache webserver and Fire-
fox browser are notable examples.
Thus, most software products
are building on community open
source sof tware; Apache Cloud-
Stack is a case in point.
Because of this embedding,
the importance of open source
for innovation and the software
industry cannot be underesti-
mated: a startup company can now launch a prototype
relatively cheaply using free software and services.
An example is the rapid grow th of Sonatype’s Cen-
tral Repository, which served nearly 8 billion requests
for Java open source components in 2012 (www
.sonatype.com/news/sonat ype- secures- access- to
- the- central- repository- for- component- based
- software- development). With this growing dependence
on open source software, companies increasingly need
and want to inuence the direction of its development.
Software developers in important positions of econom-
ically relevant open source projects are highly sought
after in the labor market.
To determine how open source is aecting software
development as a career, I interviewed practitioners via
email from 2011 to 20123 and reviewed pertinent liter-
ature. My investigation revealed that respected open
source sof tware developers often enjoy higher sala-
ries, greater job security, and a richer work experience.
Their competit ive edge stems f rom their veri able skil ls,
Dirk Riehle, Friedrich- Alexander- Universität Erlangen- Nürnberg
Software developers with open source project
experience acquire verifiable technical expertise,
peer- certified competencies, and positional
power—advantages that align with companies’
need to obtain a competitive advantage.
COMPUTING PRACTICES
52 COMPUTER WW W.COMPUTE R.ORG/CO MPUTE R
peer- certied competencies, and posi-
tional power. At the same time, the
open source movement is leveling the
playing eld and reducing labor market
entry barriers, making life more di-
cult for those software developers who
lack open source competence or status.
Erich Gamma, co- recipient of the
2011 ACM Software System award for
his work on the open source Eclipse
platform, related his experience in hir-
ing software developers:
… when I received the rst job
application with a link to a code
contribut ion to an open source
project, I immediately followed the
link, rev iewed the code, invited the
candidate for an inter view round,
and eventually made an oer. A
link to a code contribution to an
open source project is a great dif-
ferentiator in a job application.
That said, participation in open
source sof tware development need not
limit traditional pursuits. More of ten
than not, it enhances the developer’s
corpora te career and pr ovides new work
opportunities.
A NEW CAREER LADDER
In a traditional software development
career, a developer enters the labor
market and eventually nds employ-
ment at some compa ny. A matur e enter-
prise denes the developer’s career lad-
der, and a step upward t ypically implies
increased seniority, power, and salary.
The developer might evolve a techni-
cal career into engineering or product
management, or choose something
entirely dierent.
Behind this corporate ladder, career
steps in open source software develop-
ment have emerged based primarily on
the status the developer enjoys in one
or more open source projects. Although
distinct, the career ladders can be
mutually supportive; skills gained in a
trad itional ca reer are applica ble to open
source projects, and the reputation and
status gained in open source projects
can help the developer advance within
the company.
Role progression
Figure 1 shows an individual’s career
path in open source software devel-
opment. The simple three- role model
(left) starts with a user, any individual
(including a developer) who uses the
software. As its name implies, a contrib-
utor is someone who contributes to the
project, for example, by submitting a
bug report or a code patch. A committer
decides which contributions should be
included in the project.
The Onion Model4 (center) subdi-
vides these roles into eight categories
based on participants’ proximity to the
open source project. People start out-
side the project as readers and passive
users; then move to the project periph-
ery as bug xers, bug reporters, periph-
eral developers, and active developers
(developers wit hout commit rights); and
na lly enter the pr oject as core mem bers
and project leaders. Other models more
explicitly dene these career steps.5 For
example, Brian Behlendorf6 lays out a
complex role migration process built on
the Onion Model that species 11 tasks
(Figure 1, right).
In a career ladder analysis, t he focus
must be on one’s formal status within
the open source project and power
to determine its content, scope, and
direction. Individual competencies to
become an open source software devel-
oper3 are less important than ably ful-
lling the roles of user, contributor,
and committer.
User and contributor. Because open
source sof tware is free, anyone can be
a user. The number of contributors is
more restricted: a bug report or patch
submission must be accepted as rele-
vant before it can become a contribu-
tion, and a typical project rejects many
patch submissions or pull requests
(code contributions) as irrelevant.7
Achieving contributor status is thus
an implicit promotion, albeit an unher-
alded one since no one but the contribu-
tor notices t he role change.
Both the user and contributor roles
come with little power, since they
only involve requesting the project
to make a particular choice such as to
add functionalit y or decide on a sup-
porting technology.
Explicit promotion,
typically after voting
Implicit promotion by
accepted contribution
3. Committer 8. Project leader
7. Core member
6. Active developer
5. Peripheral developer
4. Bug xer
3. Bug reporter
2. Passive user
1. Reader
2. Contributor
1. User
11. Leads project
10. Receives vote of trust
9. Keeps contributing
8. Engages in conversation
7. Makes rst contribution
6. Finds a bug; reports it
5. Gives it a try; is happy
4. Checks out the project
3. Finds a matching project
2. Searches Web for software
1. Needs to solve a problem
FIGURE . Three models of the open software development career ladder. The three roles
on the left represent the simplest progression model. The center boxes show roles from the
Onion Model. The box on the right builds on the Onion Model with individual tasks defined
by Brian Behlendorf, Apache’s primary developer.
FEBRUA RY 2015 53
Committer. The committer role carries
considerably more power. Committers
are na med for the comm it bit in the proj-
ect’s cong uration ma nagement sys tem
(code repository). When the bit is set to
true, that user is free to change the code
base w ithout perm ission. Users a nd con-
tributors can not write to the code repos-
itory; their commit bit has not been set.
A committer can decide whether or not
to include a contributor’s patch or pull
request— quality assurance responsibil-
ity and power rolled into one.
Moving from contributor to com-
mitter is an important career step.
Most mature projects restrict commit-
ter status to those with proven loyalty
to the project, typically measured by
prolonged activit y as a contributor. In
most cases, existing committers dis-
cuss a proposed committer’s merits and
ultimately vote on changing that indi-
vidual’s status. The Apache Software
Foundation (ASF) and Eclipse Foun-
dation have even codied most of the
committer election process and, once
committers have arrived at a decision,
the foundation publicizes it, somet imes
with great fanfare.
The advent of decentralized cong-
uration management systems and ser-
vices, notably GitHub and Atlassian’s
Bitbucket, has sharpened the de-
nition of committer from the arcane
“someone with the commit bit set” to
trusted project source. The traditional
contributor- to-committer career step,
however, remains an impor tant event
in a project, particularly those run by
open source foundations.
In short, committers help lead a
project and determine its direction.
They perform important quality assur-
ance and are indispensable in rallying
contributors around project goals and
motivating them to pick up develop-
ment work.
From roles to foundations
In response to the rapid growth of com-
mercially relevant open source soft-
ware, foundations have evolved to
ensure the stability of such projects—
that they are valid intellectual prop-
erty and evolve collaboratively8—and
to protect their developers from legal
challenges. As such, these foundations
have extended the open source career
beyond the committer role, adding
stages and expanding management
status. As Figure 2 illustrates, develop-
ers with committer status can join proj-
ect management committees (PMCs),
become PMC leaders, and even achieve
foundation membership.6
Before open source foundations,
projects evolved without formal
authority. Open source foundations
now coordinate previously indepen-
dent projects and start new ones. The
ASF, Eclipse Foundation, and Mozilla
Foundation coordinate many proj-
ects under their respective auspices to
ensure that the projects are working
together smoothly to form one or more
viable software platforms.
Justin Erenkrantz, a former ASF
president, remarked:
At the ASF, PMC members are
recruited f rom project contrib-
utors. As recognized project
stewards, all PMC members,
including the appointed chair,
wield signicant power over the
project through veto power.
This need for coordination has led
to the creation of additional career
steps, extending the committer role
to management. In the role’s original
scope, the committer reviews contribu-
tions a nd enters them in the code repos-
itory. As a PMC member, the developer
helps determine the roadmap for one
or more projects. As a PMC leader or
one of several leaders, if a management
committee has oversight for multiple
projects, the developer gains even more
power and inuence.
The det ails of these nal c areer steps
vary by foundation, since only a few
individuals can assume a PMC member
or leader role. Howe ver, the steps a lways
signify i ncreasing power and inuence.
In the basic career model a committer
determines a single project’s direction,
but in the extended model a developer
in the nal foundation member stage
(management role) might inuence an
entire industry platform.
OPEN SOURCE
COMPETENCIES AND STATUS
A software developer’s open source
activities serve as a signal to prospec-
tive employers that the developer has
a certain collection of competencies
and development status, including
veriable claims to technical skills
and peer- certied competencies as
Explicit promotion after voting
Explicit promotion after voting
On from committer
Foundation member
PMC leader
PMC member
FIGURE . Extended open source software
development career model. Open source
foundations add to the user, contributor,
and committer roles in the basic career
model. A committer can move on to
become a project management committee
(PMC) member, a PMC leader, and eventu-
ally a foundation member.
COMPUTING PRACTICES
54 COMPUTER WWW.COM PUTE R.ORG/CO MPUTE R
well as demonstrated inuence in a
particular project.
Verifiable technical skills
An open so urce softw are developer pe r-
forms work for everyone to see, show-
casing to the public technical skills
that are independent of a particular
project and documenting them for any
interested party.9 This transparency
is in sharp contrast to closed source
work, which no one but the employer
ca n view.
The developer also has ready evi-
dence of skills related to a particular
project. A hiring manager can go to the
project ’s w ebsite and see the d eveloper’s
exper tise  rstha nd—a freedom not po s-
sible when evaluating traditional soft-
ware developers, whose work is behind
the previous employer’s rewall.
Remarks from Chris DiBona, direc-
tor of Google’s open source programs,
support this hiring advantage:
Open source software is stra-
tegic to Google, and naturally
we hire a great number of open
source developers. Someone
who demonstrates their ability
by contributing to open source
projects shows that they are able
to code in the real world in ways
other developers cannot readily
match. It’s the ultimate referral.
A host of websites and ser vices
make it easy to evaluate a develop-
er’s reputation and open source work.
For example, Black Duck Software’s
Open Hub.net provides a com prehensive
assessment of a software developer’s
open source activities and how other
developers relate to that individual.
Peer- certified competencies
A suciently large, well- working open
source project validates a developer’s
competencies simply by making the
developer one of its own. A hiring man-
ager ca n gauge techn ical, soci al, and lea d-
ership skills through peer certication.
Tec hni cal . A project that includes
the developer’s work makes that work
more valuable, essentially elevating the
developer from user to contributor. The
developer is no longer just performing
work in public, but rather has demon-
strated peer acceptance—an informal
seal of approval f rom project colleagues.
Social. If a contributor receives a vote
of trust and is promoted to committer
status, the existing team of committers
is certifying not only that the devel-
oper can work on a team but is desirable
enough to work on their team. Thus,
achieving committer status in a large,
successful open source project vali-
dates a developer’s social skills.
Leadership. A developer who becomes
a committer, or better yet a PMC mem-
ber, signals the makings of a project
leader worthy of tr ust to inspire project
members t o persevere in me eting goal s.
Robert O’Callahan, a distinguished
engineer at Mozilla, commented on the
value of open source contributions to
corporate culture:
Open source cont ributors tend to
believe in and practice the values
that characterize successful open
source projects, such as commu-
nity, meritocracy, and transpar-
ent government. Hiring those
people strengthens those values
within your corporate culture.
Thus, hiring open source developers
can also be a means for embracing or
strengthening corporate values of col-
laborative software development. This
applies not only to open source soft-
ware but also to rm- internal or inner-
source sof tware, where it can help tear
down development silos.10
Position of influence
In achieving committer status, a devel-
oper assumes signicant formal power.
Not only can committers insert code
without peer review, but they also
can inuence the project’s tone, con-
tent, and strategic direction, including
architectural decisions.
Such inuence can be used within
the project to lead and inspire collab-
oration, and it can also be projected
externally—for example, to keep com-
peting developers out of the project by
causing their bid for committer status
to be rejected.
The committer becomes visible
within the community and often
WEBSITES AND SERVICES MAKE IT
EASY TO A EVALUATE A DEVELOPER’S
REPUTATION AND OPEN SOURCE WORK.
FEBRUA RY 2015 55
beyond it. As a committer, a developer
might become the project voice and be
asked t o publish project detai ls or speak
at conferences, for example.
NEGOTIATION POWER
Open source competency is a power-
ful negotiation tool for prospective
employment. Companies look favor-
ably on open source project partici-
pation, which can lead to higher sala-
ries, greater job security, and a richer
work experience.
Value of verifiable technical skills
As a general hiring rule, an appli-
cant’s skill set is commensurate with
the salary the applicant can negotiate.
However, one study has empirically
validated that ASF committers have a
higher salary than those with equiva-
lent skills but no committer status.11
Another study12 found no such in crease
when looking at a broad array of open
source pro jects, alt hough most were not
commercially relevant.
Even so, employers tend to give
higher salaries to individuals who pres-
ent less of a hiring risk. Managers who
can view an applicant’s sustained open
source work will be more certain of
the degree and nature of that individ-
ual’s technical skills. Such condence
reduces the uncertainty discount that
is part of any salar y negotiation.
Comments from Marten Mickos,
CEO of Eucalyptus and former CEO of
MySQL, support this point:
From a software vendor’s per-
spective, open source work on
a developer’s resume … shows
that the developer has a genu-
ine passion for writing software
and a level of self- condence. … If
developers e ven contributed to our
[open source] products, … ramp-
up time will be shorter and we
know they are likely to be a better
t than an unknown developer.
All of this leads us to prefer open
source developers when hiring.
If the technical skills are from a
project of commercial interest to the
employer, the developer can expect
even greater salary negotiation power.
The value of veriable technical skills
accrues to contributors, committers,
and PMC members and leaders alike,
and is by far the most common benet
of open source work.
Value of peer certification
Those with committer or PMC member
status also get peer- certied for their
work, ma king thei r recognized technical
and social skills even more compelling
and further reduci ng the hiri ng risk.
Rachel Chalmers of Ignition Part-
ners, a boutique venture capital rm
based in Silicon Valley, commented on
the value of the work that open source
software developers publicly perform:
When we look at a startup, we look
at the GitHub repositories and
Ohloh.net [now Open Hub]. We
drill down to the level of individ-
ual developers. It informs our
investment decision. T hat fact
alone gives open source software
developers signicant leverage
when negotiat ing their position,
salary, and benets with startups.
Value of positional power
A committer in an open source proj-
ect of value to an employer has posi-
tional power that other job applicants
lack—the employer’s products might
be building on the project, for exam-
ple. Regardless of the relevancy source,
employers reap a number of benets
from hiring an applicant with open
source experience:
Future visibility. A committer
is a project leader and thus has
unique insight into the project’s
direction, which is strategically
important to a company with
products that build on the project
or that oer a ful l foundation-
managed platform.
Project inuence. The committer
is in a position to channel the
company’s work into the project
and to lead and inspire outside
developers to contribute work
that aligns with the employer’s
strategic goals.
Increased attractiveness to other
prospective hires. The comm it-
ter’s reputation attracts other
developers, so by association the
employer might be attractive to
other competent developers, giv-
ing it a competitive edge.
Community goodwill. The com-
mitter’s community visibility is
a positive reection on that indi-
vidual’s employer. Paying the
developer to work on the open
source project creates commu-
nity goodwill.
Competence by association. Along
with the developer’s skills, the
company acquires project com-
petence. Trust in the company’s
products and ser vices increases
to the extent that they are related
to the open source project, which
helps the company’s marketing
and sales.
A COMPANY THAT HIRES A DEVELOPER
WITH PROVEN SUCCESS IN OPEN
SOURCE WORK ATTRACTS OTHER
COMPETENT APPLICANTS.
COMPUTING PRACTICES
56 COMPUTER WWW.CO MPUTE R.ORG/CO MPUTE R
This increased insight, inuence,
and visibility are commercially perti-
nent to the company and hence aord
the developer an improved negotiation
position when it comes to salary and
other job conditions.
Kai- Uwe Maetzel, an IBM employee
in 2003 and later elected director of the
Eclipse Foundation, observed:
Companies want to secure their
inuence on the Eclipse plat-
form, and one way of doing so
is by employ ing committers to
Eclipse projects. Increasingly, I
see regular developers being hired
with the goal of ‘making them
committers within a few months.
When reminded of his remark for
this article, Maetzel, who has left IBM
to found to- do- list ma nager Task Krum-
plr, added:
My contributions to the Eclipse proj-
ect resulted in high visibility in the
Eclipse ane developer community.
Pretty much every oer I received
during these years from potential
employers explicitly refer red to my
reputation in the Eclipse project.
Once an applicant is hired, the com-
mitter role is likely to provide higher
job security as well. In hard times, the
economic value of the committer posi-
tion might be the deciding factor in
reta ining t he individu al with th at statu s.
Committers also have a richer job
experience because the requirements
are broader than those for a traditional
developer. Their employers will expect
them to perform well within the com-
pany, but might also expect them to
keep working on the open source proj-
ect. These expectations create a more
rewarding work context and deepen
committers’ development experience.
LABOR MARKET INFLUENCES
Although contributors to an open
source project are valuable, they are not
scarce; many users become contribu-
tors and build a public reputation and
an open source resu me. Committer s are
far fewer and thus enjoy more recogni-
tion and establish a reputation. At the
high end of the ladder are PMC mem-
bers and leaders. As a project matures
and growth slows, it becomes more dif-
cult to assume these more elite roles,
simply because there are not that many
positions to ll.
The labor market for developing
open source components and building
on them has few or no entry barriers.
Open source software is readily avail-
able, and free educational materials
abound. Anyone who wants to be part
of the open source community can join
without running into nancial or edu-
cational barriers.
Comments by Richard Seibt, presi-
dent of the Open Source Business Foun-
dation, support this free entry to the
labor ma rket:
With diminishing barriers to
entry, everyone can contribute
to open source and earn a living.
Both soft ware vendors and IT user
rms are increasingly turning
to open source foundations as a
means for organizing software
development. This provides ample
employment opportunity for soft-
ware developers who are skilled
in open source development.
In contrast, closed source software
development is exclusionary. To join
this labor market, a developer must
purchase a license and undergo com-
mercial training. Sometimes, access
is possible only through a mediator,
such as a n employer or academic insti-
tution. For the most pa rt, no such com-
plications exist for open source soft-
ware development.
In addition, open source and associ-
ated Web services have facilitated the
growth of end-user programmers
people without formal computer sci-
ence education who can complete
light weight programming tasks using
scripting languages and perform Web
design. These individuals are also com-
peting with traditional developers in
the labor market.
As more software products build on
open source components, the impor-
tance of these components will only
increase. Consequently, well- heeled
and highly skilled soft ware develop-
ers may face more competition from
THE INCREASED INSIGHT, INFLUENCE, AND
VISIBILITY FROM OPEN SOURCE WORK
ARE COMMERCIALLY RELEVANT AND
STRENGTHEN THE NEGOTIATION POSITION.
FEBRUA RY 2015 57
less wealthy and less skilled develop-
ers. Such competition was previously
impossible due to labor market entry
barriers in the then- dominant closed
source sof tware industr y.
These trends suggest a class divi-
sion in the software development labor
market that will widen as more coun-
tries mature their development prac-
tices. Those who hold a powerful posi-
tion in important open source projects
will thrive, while those who remain in
traditional, closed source practices will
ounder amid increased global compe-
tition. Theoretically, this division will
not be based on national origin, since
the Internet aords nea rly global access
to open source software. Admittedly,
however, Western developers have a
head start: they created the ecosystem,
dened its collaboration values, and
have the spare time and resources to
work on open source projects.
Open source project participa-
tion is creating a new career
ladder with tangible benefits
for soft ware developers and employ-
ers. As more products incorporate
open source software, the overall
developer labor market is becom-
ing more competitive. Closed source
software that once afforded wealthy
Western developers some protection
is giving way to open source projects
that are eroding the expertise silo.
In the future, people from low- wage
countries that are not already in the
developer market will join, intensi-
fying competition. Developers with
open source project experience will
have the edge over those still relying
on their closed source soft ware devel-
opment skills.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I thank Ann Barcomb, Hannes Dohrn, Kai-
Uwe Maetzel, Michael Maximilien, and
Robert O’Callahan for helping me improve
this article. I also thank Ch ris DiBona, Jus-
tin Erenkrantz, Kai- Uwe Maetzel, Mar ten
Mickos, Robert O’Callahan and Richard
Seibt for t heir timely provision of quotes
that i llustrate the impact of open source on
the software developer career.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DIRK RIEHLE is the professor of open source software at Friedrich-Alexander-
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. His research interests include open
source and inner source software engineering; agile software development
methods; complexity science and human collaboration; and software system
architecture, design, and implementation. Riehle received a PhD in computer sci-
ence from ETH Zürich and an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School
of Business. He is a member of ACM, IEEE, and the German Informatics Society,
and founder of the Open Symposium (OpenSym). Contact him at dirk@riehle.org
or http://dirkriehle.com.
Selec ted CS articles and
columns are also available for
free at http://ComputingNow
.computer.org.
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... Research on developers' contributions to OSS projects has focused on the motivation and behaviour of individuals [12], [13], [14], [15], [16], [17], [18], [19], [20], [21], as well as the challenges of using the tools available to make technical contributions [22], [23], [24], [25], [26], [27]. A wide range of research on company engagement with and contribution to OSS projects has provided an understanding of the motivations of companies to use OSS and to work with projects, and their ways of working [8], [10], [11], [28], [29], [30], [31]. ...
... The benefits to businesses of contributing to OSS projects extend beyond the creation of software and include the acquisition of marketable knowledge and expertise [47], and organisational learning [8], [9], [48]. Individual contributors also benefit in terms of their careers [21] and their careers within projects [49], which also has value for the employer [21], [31]. ...
... The benefits to businesses of contributing to OSS projects extend beyond the creation of software and include the acquisition of marketable knowledge and expertise [47], and organisational learning [8], [9], [48]. Individual contributors also benefit in terms of their careers [21] and their careers within projects [49], which also has value for the employer [21], [31]. ...
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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 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.
... In particular, by focusing on intentions to quit as an undesirable outcome, this study identifies factors that firms might control in order to reduce turnover intentions within the own developer workforce. Second, this study is among the first to combine aspects of role conflict with OSS developers' career ambition (Riehle, 2015), linking previously unconnected research streams. Third, by identifying moderation effects, the results of this study suggest actionable recommendations on managing employees who are confronted with identification imbalances and role conflicts that result from investing in developer communities beyond the firm's boundaries. ...
... In particular, when experiencing role conflict, developers who wish to develop a career in the community (rather than the firm) will be more likely to quit the firm, but not the community. Developers who hold influential positions in prominent open source projects will easily find employment elsewhere (Riehle, 2015). Hence, we propose the following two related hypotheses: ...
... Thus, those developers who wish to move onto the managerial career ladder (as opposed to a technical career ladder) are more likely to leave the open source community. As firms plan for future engagement of open source projects in light of the natural inflow and outflow of employees, it is useful to know which path developers prefer (Riehle, 2015). Furthermore, we also found a negative statistically significant relationship between developers' preference to progress towards a community's center and an intention to leave the community (H5c). ...
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Software companies are increasingly shifting their role in open source software (OSS) projects from passive adopters to active contributors, and creators of OSS projects. Many firms now employ developers to work on OSS projects to influence their further development. These developers may gain considerable influence in OSS communities, though this typically takes a long time. Previous research found that those individual developers' agendas are not always aligned to that of the firm. While so-called "company soldiers" strongly identify with their firm, other developers may have "gone native": they identify more strongly with the OSS community rather than the firm. We study the effect of such an imbalance of identification on firm-community role conflict, which may lead to an intention to quit either the firm or the OSS community. We also consider the moderating effects of developers' career ambitions on this relationship. Furthermore, we include the effects of developers' desired career paths on their intentions to quit the firm and community. We test our model using a sample of 177 firm-employed OSS developers, and find that identification imbalance is associated with firm-community role conflict and that these conflicts drive both intentions to quit the firm and the community. Other findings include a significant negative moderating effect of developers' firm career aspirations on the relation between role conflict and intentions to quit the firm. Several of our hypotheses were not supported, but we found "regions of significance," which suggests several avenues for further research. We conclude with recommendations for managing firm-community relationships.
... Such use of OSS as a training ground allows students to not only learn real-world technical skills but also learn about team communication, communication styles, and attitudes, which might, in turn, increase their confidence when applying for industry jobs [2], [7]- [9]. Successful participation in OSS projects also helps (student) newcomers gain visibility among their peers [10], [11], benefit society by developing a product used by many users [12], and have a higher chance to achieve professional success [11], [13], [14]. ...
... Such use of OSS as a training ground allows students to not only learn real-world technical skills but also learn about team communication, communication styles, and attitudes, which might, in turn, increase their confidence when applying for industry jobs [2], [7]- [9]. Successful participation in OSS projects also helps (student) newcomers gain visibility among their peers [10], [11], benefit society by developing a product used by many users [12], and have a higher chance to achieve professional success [11], [13], [14]. ...
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Full-text available
Participation in Open Source Software (OSS) projects offers real software development experience for students and other newcomers seeking to develop their skills. However, onboarding to an OSS project brings various challenges, including finding a suitable task among various open issues. Selecting an appropriate starter task requires newcomers to identify the skills needed to solve a project issue and avoiding tasks too far from their skill set. However, little is known about how effective newcomers are in identifying the skills needed to resolve an issue. We asked 154 undergrad students to evaluate issues from OSS projects and infer the skills needed to contribute. Students reported a total of 94 skills, which we classified into 10 categories. We compared the students' answers to those collected from 6 professional developers. In general, students misidentified and missed several skills (f-measure=0.37). Students had results closer to professional developers for skills related to database, operating infrastructure, programming concepts, and programming language, and they had worse results in identifying skills related to debugging and program comprehension. Our results can help educators who seek to use OSS as part of their courses and OSS communities that want to label newcomer-friendly issues to facilitate onboarding of new contributors.
... As mentioned above, one cannot afford to leave software security as an afterthought; developers must strive to improve software security issues from the planning stage to the maintenance stage. The works of Cheng et al. (2008), Hilburn and Mead (2013), and Riehle and Nürnberg (2015) are studies that investigated methods to handle software security using the lifecycle of software development. It is also well established that vulnerabilities and flaws are the doors attackers exploit. ...
... Researchers such as Cheng et al. (2008); Hilburn & Mead (2013) and Riehle & Nürnberg (2015) have called for security competence development through the lifecycle of developers. We concede, we could not do that, but we have identified some security competences of the developer that can be used as a starting stage for security competences of the developers' studies. ...
Chapter
Software growth has been explosive as people depend heavily on software on daily basis. Software development is a human-intensive effort, and developers' competence in software security is essential for secure software development. In addition, ubiquitous computing provides an added complexity to software security. Studies have treated security competences of software developers as a subsidiary of security engineers' competence instead of software engineers' competence, limiting the full knowledge of the security competences of software developers. This presents a crucial challenge for developers, educators, and users to maintain developers' competences in security. As a first step in pushing for the developers' security competence studies, this chapter utilises a literature review to identify the security competences of software developers. Thirteen security competences of software developers were identified and mapped to the common body of knowledge for information security professional framework. Lastly, the implications for, with, and without the competences are analysed and presented.
... As mentioned above, one cannot afford to leave software security as an afterthought; developers must strive to improve software security issues from the planning stage to the maintenance stage. The works of Cheng et al. (2008), Hilburn and Mead (2013), and Riehle and Nürnberg (2015) are studies that investigated methods to handle software security using the lifecycle of software development. It is also well established that vulnerabilities and flaws are the doors attackers exploit. ...
... Researchers such as Cheng et al. (2008); Hilburn & Mead (2013) and Riehle & Nürnberg (2015) have called for security competence development through the lifecycle of developers. We concede, we could not do that, but we have identified some security competences of the developer that can be used as a starting stage for security competences of the developers' studies. ...
Chapter
Software growth has been explosive as people depend heavily on software on daily basis. Software development is human-intensive effort and developers’ competence in software security is essential for secure software development. Besides, ubiquitous computing provides an added complexity to software security. Studies have treated security competences of software developers as a subsidiary of security engineers’ competence instead of software engineers’ competence, limiting the full knowledge of the security competences of software developers. This presents a crucial challenge for developers, educators, and users to maintain developers’ competences in security. As a first step in pushing for the developer’s security competence studies, this chapter utilises a literature review to identify the security competences of software developers. Thirteen security competences of software developers were identified and mapped to the Common Body of Knowledge for Information Security Professional Framework. Lastly, the implications for, with and without the competences are analysed and presented.
... This may relate to the new landscape of OSS [49,1], in which companies are key players. Moreover, novices may use their OSS contribution history as a portfolio, and potential employers are increasingly referring to online contributions when making hiring decisions [60]. ...
... This may relate to the new landscape of OSS [49,1], in which companies are key players. Moreover, novices may use their OSS contribution history as a portfolio, and potential employers are increasingly referring to online contributions when making hiring decisions [60]. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Open Source Software (OSS) has changed drastically over the last decade, with OSS projects now producing a large ecosystem of popular products, involving industry participation, and providing professional career opportunities. But our field's understanding of what motivates people to contribute to OSS is still fundamentally grounded in studies from the early 2000s. With the changed landscape of OSS, it is very likely that motivations to join OSS have also evolved. Through a survey of 242 OSS contributors, we investigate shifts in motivation from three perspectives: (1) the impact of the new OSS landscape, (2) the impact of individuals' personal growth as they become part of OSS communities, and (3) the impact of differences in individuals' demographics. Our results show that some motivations related to social aspects and reputation increased in frequency and that some intrinsic and internalized motivations, such as learning and intellectual stimulation, are still highly relevant. We also found that contributing to OSS often transforms extrinsic motivations to intrinsic, and that while experienced contributors often shift toward altruism, novices often shift toward career, fun, kinship, and learning. OSS projects can leverage our results to revisit current strategies to attract and retain contributors, and researchers and tool builders can better support the design of new studies and tools to engage and support OSS development.
... Analyzing what motivates students to participate in OSS and how to onboard them is underexplored in the literature. Fostering the participation of students can increase the OSS workforce at the same time that it can benefit students, since potential employers increasingly consider online contributions when making hiring decisions [15,34]. ...
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Article
There has been a recent surge of interest in open source software development, which involves developers at many different locations and organizations sharing code to develop and refine programs. To an economist, the behavior of individual programmers and commercial companies engaged in open source projects is initially startling. This paper makes a preliminary exploration of the economics of open source software. We highlight the extent to which labor economics, especially the literature on "career concerns", and industrial organization theory can explain many of these projects' features. We conclude by listing interesting research questions related to open source software. Copyright 2002 by Blackwell Publishing Ltd