Task‐based structures in open source software: revisiting the onion model

Jose Christian, Anh N. Vu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Studies on Open Source Software (OSS) developer communities have long stated that there is a relationship between community structure and tasks carried out by project members. This relationship has been exemplified by the onion model, which has been instrumental in understanding self‐coordination in OSS projects. Despite its ubiquity, there is a lack of empirical evidence to validate the relative position of each task cluster within the onion model. In this study, we map out the community structure of a large open source project and observe its bug‐fixing patterns to explore the relationship between tasks and structure. Our study makes three significant contributions. First, we find no empirical evidence to support the structural location of bug‐fixing tasks in the onion structure. Second, we find empirical evidence to support the core‐periphery continuum model linking an actor’s coreness to problem‐solving ability. Third, our results suggest that the importance and location of each task within the core‐periphery structure evolve over time. These findings add clarity to the community structure and their implications for the management and coordination of collaborative innovation projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)87-100
    Number of pages14
    JournalR&D Management
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


    • Open source
    • Innovation
    • Problem solving


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