Resolving Governance Disputes in Communities: A Study of Software License Decisions
Strategic Management Journal, Forthcoming
62 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2020
Date Written: 2020
Resolving governance disputes is of vital importance for communities. Gathering data from GitHub communities, we employ hybrid inductive methods to study discussions around initiation and change of software licenses—a fundamental and potentially contentious governance issue. First, we apply machine learning algorithms to identify robust patterns in data: resolution is more likely in larger discussion groups and in projects without a license compared to those with a license. Second, we analyze textual data to explain the causal mechanisms underpinning these patterns. The resulting theory highlights the group process (reflective agency switches disputes from bargaining to problem solving) and group property (preference alignment over attributes) that are both necessary for the resolution of governance disputes, contributing to the literature on community governance.
Keywords: dispute resolution; community governance; problem solving; machine learning; inductive theorizing
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