Decision Making Paths in Self-Organizing Technology-Mediated Distributed Teams

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


Proceedings of the International Conference on Open Source Systems, Paris, France, 14-17 December (2008)


This paper investigates decision making in self-organizing technology-mediated distributed teams. This context provides an opportunity to examine how the use of technological support to span temporal and organizational discontinuities affects decision-making processes. 258 software-modification decision episodes were collected from the public emailing lists of six Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects over a span of five years. Six decision-making paths were identified as 1) short-cut decision-making path; 2) implicit-development decision-making path; 3) implicit-evaluation decision-making path; 4) normative decision-making path; 5) dynamic decision-making path; and 6) interrupted/delayed decision-making path. We suggest that the nature of the tasks and the affordances of the technology used reduce the need for explicit coordination, resulting in a broader range of possible decision processes than are observed in face-to-face groups.