My friend and sometime colleague, Christopher Özbek, presented his final PhD defence on Friday at Freie Universität Berlin. I am pleased to report that he was passed with flying colours, being awarded the highest possible grade (summa cum laude?). His dissertation addresses the matter of how to innovate within FLOSS projects, that is, how to effect changes to their development processes. Here is the abstract:
This thesis presents a qualitative study using Grounded Theory Methodology on the question of how to change development processes in Open Source projects. The mailing list communication of thirteen medium-sized Open Source projects over the year 2007 was analyzed to answer this question. It resulted in eight main concepts revolving around the introduction of innovation, i.e. new processes, services, and tools, into the projects including topics such as the migration to new systems, the question on where to host services, how radical Open Source projects can change their ways, and how compliance to processes and conventions is enforced. These are complemented with (1) the result of five case studies in which innovation introductions were conducted with Open Source projects, and with (2) a theoretical comparison of the results of this thesis to four theories and scientific perspectives from the organizational and social sciences such as Path Dependence, the Garbage Can model, Social-Network analysis, and Actor-Network theory. The results show that innovation introduction is a multifaceted phenomenon, of which this thesis discusses the most salient conceptual aspects. The thesis concludes with practical advice for innovators and specialized hints for the most popular innovations.
A link to a copy of his dissertation is available at his Twitter feed.