Despite the fact that OSS contributors tend to eschew traditional organizational hierarchies, researchers have found that, in many cases, OSS contributors make tightly coupled system designs and successfully coordinate highly interdependent tasks. Although researchers have explained how OSS contributors make tightly coupled code contributions, we do not know the characteristics of individuals who make such contributions. While previous studies have considered OSS projects as single, independent containers, I note that OSS projects do not constitute independent or standalone entities but reuse and, thus, depend one another. This reuse creates complex networks of interdependencies called “software ecosystems”. In this paper, I analyze OSS contributors who have made tightly coupled code contributions using two lenses: the core-periphery lens and the habitual-episodic lens. Based on investigating three volunteer-driven OSS projects, I found OSS contributors who make tightly coupled code contributions to have different code-contribution patterns. Interestingly, I found that half of such contributors made no previous code contributions to the sampled projects but episodically authored patches (or pull requests) that increased software coupling. Based on further investigation, I suggest a multiple-fluid-container view that accommodates software ecosystems in which multiple containers (multiple OSS projects) co-evolve with each container (each OSS project) readily accessible.
Moon, E. (2021). Episodic Peripheral Contributors and Technical Dependencies in Open Source Software (OSS) Ecosystems. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 49, pp-pp. https://doi.org/10.17705/1CAIS.04908