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Project Title

Power Asymmetry in Open Source Software Communities: Strategic Selection and Homophily as Network Attachment Logics


Cuihua Shen, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 90089, [cuihuash at usc dot edu]

Peter Monge, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, 90089

Project Abstract

Although it is often perceived as an egalitarian and fully-participatory innovation community, the Open Source Software(OSS) community is highly stratified in terms of collaborative dynamics. In order to explain the extensive disparity, this research theorizes the OSS community as network organizations, and extends knowledge on OSS by empirically examining two mechanisms of network formation: strategic selection and homophily. A complete developer network from the data archive was extracted and analyzed, using the Exponential Random Graph (p*) social selection model to make inferences about structural parameters, actor attributes and the network structure. Results showed that project leadership and reputation did not translate into structural power. However, the results indicated that homophily predicted network formation in that developers tended to connect with people with similar levels of performance.

Keywords: power asymmetry, network structure, homophily, open source, ERGM, p*


  • Shen, C. & Monge, P. (2008, May). Power asymmetry and network structure in Open Source community. Paper presented at the 58th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA), Montreal, Canada.
  • Shen, C. & Monge, P. (2007, May). The network structure of Open Source Software (OSS) community. Paper presented at International Sunbelt Social Network Conference (XXVII), Corfu, Greece.