Drupal as a runaway object: conceptualisation of peer production activities through Activity Theory

EGOS (European Group for Organizational Studies) 2015 Annual Conference (Athens, 04/07/2015).

The lack of clear boundaries and the distributed nature of Commons-Based Peer Production (CBPP) pose a challenge for the theoretical frameworks which aim to provide a useful methodological tool for its conceptualisation and analysis, such as Activity Theory (AT). This paper presents the use of AT in the ongoing study of the organisational dynamics of a large and diverse CBPP community: Drupal. This application of AT is being carried out by drawing on the model of activity system to analyse contribution activities; and by conceptualising Drupal as a runaway object, which operates as a nexus for the study of these coordination efforts. Hence, by presenting the conceptualisation and challenges which are currently being faced, this paper aims to provide evidence of the value of AT to untangle the dense and multidirectional dynamics which lie within these communities, as well as to contribute to the discussion on the limitations that this approach could have for the study of peer production.