The Penguinist Discourse: A Critical Application of Open Source Software Project Management to Organization Development

By Federman, Mark | Organization Development Journal, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

The Penguinist Discourse: A Critical Application of Open Source Software Project Management to Organization Development


Federman, Mark, Organization Development Journal


Abstract

The apparent altruism observed among contributors to Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) initiatives is often envied by managers seeking to inspire and motivate employees. While conventional managerialist authors often encourage the emulation of FLOSS management style, this paper seeks a social-psychological understanding on FLOSS contributors' motivation, and the control dynamics of the projects' organization. Radical changes on some of the basic assumptions of conventional practices may be required to translate FLOSS approaches to corporate management.

Introduction

The philosophy of the Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) movement, and more specifically, the Linux development model, are heralded as powerful and effective approaches for organizing software development. Lately, aspects of the FLOSS approach have been abstracted and proposed as a new paradigm for managing organizations. This is especially true of so-called virtual organizations, a term loosely used to describe those entities whose members are geographically dispersed, where communication is primarily (or exclusively) accomplished through Internet-enabled technology, and which are largely concerned with the production of knowledge-related goods and services as a key business initiative. As the "fast capitalist" discourse (Gee, Hull, & Lankshear, 1996) suggests, successful companies in the globalized economy are increasingly taking on these characteristics. It is therefore likely that many aspects of the FLOSS management approach will be appropriated as "best practices" by managerialist organization development proponents, and nominally applied to contemporary business management.

A Critical View of Fast Capitalism

It can be said that so-called fast capitalism is the result of global, instantaneous communications that has accelerated the pace of business over the past two decades, and enabled business operations that are not constrained by the limitations of physical geography or time zone boundaries. As I have explained elsewhere (Federman & de Kerckhove, 2003), such extreme acceleration creates a reversal in the original characteristics of the accelerated entity, and modern business seems to be no exception. Gee et al. (1996) observe that "old capitalism's" underlying principles were founded on mass production of goods, and later, services, by a relatively uniform workforce. The increasing affluence of this workforce not only provided the necessary labor, but simultaneously, the requisite market. As affluence and the resultant consumer spending increased, so too did the saturation of the market. Vast improvements in global communications, and increased efficiencies in transportation both expanded markets and enabled distributed labor forces. Additionally, they enabled a reversal in capitalism's underlying principle.

"New capitalism" is characterized by mass customization:

.. .the design, production, and marketing of "high quality" goods and services for now saturated markets... selling newer and ever more perfect(ed) customized (individualized) goods and services to niche markets - that is, to groups of people who come to define and change their identities by the sorts of goods and services they consume. (Gee et al., 1996, p. 26)

The ultimate fast capitalist competitor, then, is one who can respond almost immediately to the rapid customization demands of customers. Such responsiveness places a premium on innovation, design, advance marketing intelligence - in other words, knowledge as the raw material and basic commodity of contemporary times. But to transform knowledge-as-manufacturing-inputs into identity-creating adjuncts (that happen to take the form of products and services), necessitates a corresponding transformation of the labor force.

Nominally, at least, heterogeneous, hierarchical work forces are replaced by collaboratively organized teams, comprised of individually motivated entrepreneurial workers who must consider their careers as they consider their jobs - projects to be managed. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Penguinist Discourse: A Critical Application of Open Source Software Project Management to Organization Development
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.