Communities of Practice for Open Source Software

Communities of Practice for Open Source Software

Leila Lage Humes
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-999-1.ch047
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This chapter studies the use of communities of practice in the process of disseminating open source software (OSS) in the University of São Paulo. The change management process included establishing an OSS support service and developing a skills-building training program for its professional IT staff, supplemented by a community of practice supported by an Internet-based discussion list. After using the resource extensively during the early phases of the adoption process, users replaced their participation in this local community by a mostly peripheral involvement in global OSS communities of practice. As a result of growing knowledge and experience with OSS, users’ beliefs and attitudes toward this technology became more favorable. These results, consistent with the theory of planned behavior constructs, provide useful guidance for managing the change process.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Adoption: The adoption of an innovation may be conceptualized as a temporal sequence of steps through which an individual passes from initial knowledge of an innovation to a decision to adopt or reject it, to put the innovation to use, or finally, to seek reinforcement of the adoption decision made.

Linux: An operating system very similar to Unix that is suitable for use on a wide range of computers. It consists of a kernel that is the core of the operating system and a wide range of free utilities and application programs that are available in coordinated packages named Versions.

Change Process Management: Activities involved in defining and instilling new values, attitudes, norms, and behaviors within an organization that supports new ways of doing work and overcomes resistance to change; building consensus among customers and stakeholders on specific changes designed to better meet its needs; and planning, testing, and implementing all aspects of the transition from one organizational structure or business process to another.

Linux Distribution: A version of a Unix-like operating system for computers comprising most of an operating system, the Linux kernel, and other application programs. There are currently more than 300 Linux distribution projects in active development that are constantly revised and improved by their respective developers.

Open Source Software (OSS): The principle that computer programs should be shared freely among users, with the possibility of introducing improvements and modifications. Therefore, users can make changes, build new versions, and incorporate changes.

PHP: PHP hypertext preprocessor is a scripting language used to create dynamic Web pages.

Communities of Practice (CoPs): Groups of people with common purposes, experiences, and interests, who are willing to provide and share information, devoting time to collaborate with the group in solving problems beyond organizational structures and boundaries.

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