Decision-making processes and team performance in self-organizing virtual teams: The case of Free/Libre Open Source Software development teams

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Effective decision making is critical to team effectiveness. We examine decision making in the setting of self-organizing virtual teams, a setting that we expect to pose particular problems for effective decision making. A self-organizing team must develop effective practices in the absence of a formal organizational structure that guides the practices. A virtual team’s reliance on technological support to span temporal and organizational discontinuities makes an effective decision-making process more difficult to achieve. We examine decision-making processes and their relation to team performance in Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) teams, chosen as extreme examples of self-organizing virtual teams. We identified six paths that describe the decision-making process. Further analysis revealed that diversity in decision-making paths appeared to be related to differences in task types and group performance. The study provides insight into decision making in FLOSS teams and has implications for decision making in self-organizing virtual teams more generally.