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The Emergence of Organizations and Markets$
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John F. Padgett and Walter W. Powell

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148670

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148670.001.0001

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Managing the Boundaries of an “Open” Project

Managing the Boundaries of an “Open” Project

(p.545) 18 Managing the Boundaries of an “Open” Project
The Emergence of Organizations and Markets

Fabrizio Ferraro

Siobhán O’Mahony

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the emergence of Debian, a community software project, from 1997 to 2002, showing how select, skilled programmers emerged as the custodians who guided Debian in the context of its highly distributed and pluralistic structure. These stewards functioned in a somewhat comparable fashion to the open elite in biotechnology, ushering in promising newcomers, policing free riders, and maintaining the norms of the community. In such a manner, this small community of gatekeepers helped mobilize resources and commitment to a model of governance that resembled the invisible college of biotech science described in chapter 13. Through the development of key signing practices, a membership process was monitored by a small number of gatekeepers who maintained the openness of the system.

Keywords:   community software project, open source community, Debian, private governance, programmers, open project

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