Getting Started with Corporate Open Source Governance: A Case Study Evaluation of Industry Best Practices

Abstract: Ope​n source software usage in companies is on the rise, often resulting in lower development costs, higher quality, and quick availability of code. However, using open source software in products comes with legal, business, and technical risks. Experienced companies prevent and address these risks through corporate open source governance. In our previous work, we studied how top-tier companies got started with corporate open source governance. We proposed a set of industry best practices on the topic, using the practical format of interconnected context-problem-solution patterns. In this study, we put the proposed state-of-the-art practices to the test by evaluating their real-life application in a case study at a Germany-based multibillion-dollar corporation with products in four distinct industries and more than 17000 employees worldwide. In the course of two and a half years, we conducted 35 semi-structured employee interviews and workshops in five divisions of the company to assess the initial situation of open source governance, the process of getting started with governance following our recommendations, and the outcomes. In this paper, we report the results of this longitudinal case study by presenting the artifacts created while getting started with open source governance, as well as the transferability evaluation of the proposed best practices, both individually and collectively.

Keywords: Practice-based IS Research, Best Practice, Longitudinal Case Study, Corporate Open Source Governance, Open Source Software, OSS, FLOSS.

Reference: Nikolay Harutyunyan and Dirk Riehle. 2021 (January). Getting Started with Corporate Open Source Governance: A Case Study Evaluation of Industry Best Practices. 54th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS 2021). Virtual, USA.

A preprint of the paper is available here as a PDF file.