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Can you trust someone you do not see? The Case of Open Source software development

Abstract : The subject of this research is collaboration within virtual innovation networks. These project-teams are made up of geographically dispersed individuals who are temporarily brought together, and make use of information and communication technology (ICT) to support communication and the realisation of the project. Existing literature on the relationships between members of a group accords ‘trust’ the central coordinating role. However, it seems acknowledged that this confidence relies essentially on personal or ‘face-to-face’ knowledge of the other individuals. Our aim is to study the conditions in which trust can be a method of coordination when there is no direct and immediate interaction between the principles of the innovation project. In order to reply to this question, we will analyse the functioning of open-source software development teams associated with the Linux project. It appears that the absence of simultaneous direct interaction significantly limits interpersonal trust. This lack of trust is compensated for in part by a high level of ‘institutional’ trust, but also by a formalised control mechanism, the combination of these assuring a high level of performance. We have also distanced ourselves from methodologies that give particular importance to trust as an alternative to control, in preference for an integrated perspective. In particular, control sanctions can be used without de-motivating the Linux community members because it complements a global control system similar to that of social control.
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Contributor : Thomas Loilier Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - 2:25:12 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 9, 2022 - 3:50:03 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-02148364, version 1


Thomas Loilier, Albéric Tellier. Can you trust someone you do not see? The Case of Open Source software development. M@n@gement, AIMS (Association internationale de management stratégique), 2004, 7 (3), pp.275-306. ⟨hal-02148364⟩



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