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Evaluating Socio-Technical Coordination in Open-Source Communities: A Cluster-Based Approach

[+] Author Affiliations
Inna Rytsareva, Qize Le, Ananth Kalyanaraman, Jitesh H. Panchal

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Emma Conner

Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH

Paper No. DETC2012-70604, pp. 277-286; 10 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 2: 32nd Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, Parts A and B
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4501-1
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


In complex product development, coordination is the act of managing dependencies between artifacts. Socio-technical coordination is the achievement of coordination through the alignment of organizational structures and product structures. Socio-technical coordination is achieved in hierarchical product development organizations by aligning the organizational structure with the system architecture. However, within virtual community-based product development such as open source development, the organizational structure is not designed by a central authority. In contrast, the community evolves as a result of participation of individuals and their communication with other individuals working on the project. Hence, understanding and quantifying socio-technical coordination is particularly important in open-source communities.

Existing approaches to measuring socio-technical coordination are based on the congruence between ideal communication and the actual communication structures within communities. The primary limitation of existing approaches is that they only account for explicit communication between individuals. Existing measures do not account for the indirect communication between individuals and the shared knowledge that individuals working on a joint project possess. Due to these limitations, the socio-technical coordination values have been observed to be very low in the existing literature. We propose two alternate approaches to measuring socio-technical coordination based on clustering techniques. We illustrate the approaches using a case study from an open source software development community. The proposed approaches present a broader and more encompassing view of coordination within open source communities.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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