Change of governance and open source communities: The case of Claroline Software

By Robert Viseur, Amel Charleux


Since the mid-1990s, free and open source software has been gradually integrating the economic sphere and leading to the development of large online communities. Although these communities have been widely studied, their coexistence with software editors remains poorly controlled. More specifically, the role that these communities can play beyond their technical contribution is under-researched. In our research, we question the relationship between an editor and its community by taking as a unit of analysis the reaction of the community to strategic changes in governance initiated by the editor. In order to reach our goal, a longitudinal study was needed. Claroline is a popular open source Learning Management System project that directly or indirectly produces several other open source projects. Considering its diffusion, the evolution of its governance, its strengths and its resilience, Claroline presented an ideal research ground for understanding community dynamics. Finally, our results show that free and open source communities can be at the root of resistance and hinder the implementation of certain strategic decisions related in particular to modes of governance. JEL Codes: L17


  • Open Source
  • Governance
  • Community
  • Fork
  • Innovation
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