Company soldiers and gone-natives: role conflict and career ambition among firm-employed open source developers

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Schaarschmidt, Mario
Stol, Klaas-Jan
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Association for Information Systems (AIS)
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Software companies are increasingly shifting their role in open source software (OSS) projects from passive adopters to active contributors, and creators of OSS projects. Many firms now employ developers to work on OSS projects to influence their further development. These developers may gain considerable influence in OSS communities, though this typically takes a long time. Previous research found that those individual developers’ agendas are not always aligned to that of the firm. While so-called “company soldiers” strongly identify with their firm, other developers may have “gone native”: they identify more strongly with the OSS community rather than the firm. We study the effect of such an imbalance of identification on firm-community role conflict, which may lead to an intention to quit either the firm or the OSS community. We also consider the moderating effects of developers’ career ambitions on this relationship. Furthermore, we include the effects of developers’ desired career paths on their intentions to quit the firm and community. We test our model using a sample of 177 firm-employed OSS developers, and find that identification imbalance is associated with firm-community role conflict and that these conflicts drive both intentions to quit the firm and the community. Other findings include a significant negative moderating effect of developers’ firm career aspirations on the relation between role conflict and intentions to quit the firm. Several of our hypotheses were not supported, but we found “regions of significance,” which suggests several avenues for further research. We conclude with recommendations for managing firm-community relationships.
Open source , Paid developers , Survey , Role conflict , Career ambition
Schaarschmidt, M. and Stol, K.-J., (2018) 'Company Soldiers and Gone-Natives: Role Conflict and Career Ambition Among Firm-Employed Open Source Developers', forthcoming conference, ICIS 2018, San Francisco, 13-16 December.
© 2018 the authors.