trends and anticipated future of community source effort.
Interviews varied in length from 30
minutes to 90 minutes. We consolidated our interview notes within 24
hours following an interview. We also
took extensive field notes of our observations.
17 Respondents included senior executives, project managers, developers, and other IS staff members
from participating Kuali institutions.
Most respondents had extensive involvement in the development of community source projects.
Data analysis. Our data analysis
consisted of multiple rounds of coding. The first involved thematic analysis of the data using the open-coding
approach of the grounded-theory approach.
4, 10 In this initial process, we
were immersed in the data, employing constant comparisons to identify persistent patterns in respondent experiences and perceptions.
The second involved axial coding4, 10
to discern core themes around Kuali
participant interactions, challenges
encountered, project-control mechanisms, and changes in the Kuali experience. The final round involved
selective coding4, 10 to target modes of
project control and comparisons with
other development environments.
We conducted open and axial coding following each of the first two
data-collection periods. We used the
coding structure we developed following the first round of data collection
as a foundational framework for analyzing the second data set. In line with
the principle of constant comparison,
we modified the coding structure
in light of the new responses. Data
analysis following the third round
of data collection involved only axial
and selective coding. Two of the three
researchers collaboratively executed
open and axial coding of interview
transcripts and field notes, with one
conducting subsequent selective coding, and the resulting code structure
and coded segments being reviewed
by all members of the research team.
The Case of Kuali
Kuali is a comprehensive administra-
tive software suite targeting the needs
of institutions of higher education.
The project began in 2004 as a part-
nership between Indiana University
and the National Association of Col-
lege and University Business Officers
with support from the Andrew W. Mel-
lon Foundation. The driving force was
the realization that existing university
systems were outdated and too diffi-
cult to maintain but that commercial
software involves high cost, increased
complexity, and inflexibility to the
particular needs of institutions. In-
diana found itself in a position like
the scenario outlined earlier, with
the university’s leadership finding
all standard options unsatisfactory.
As a result, it formed the partnership
and set out toward Kuali. Other insti-
tutions, including the University of
Arizona, Cornell University, the Uni-
versity of Hawaii, and Michigan State
University, quickly joined up.
The challenges they encountered
were far from unique. In higher edu-
cation, commercial software is often
viewed as too expensive and difficult
to customize. Even when such plat-
forms are selected, many institutions
decide to operate costly “shadow
systems” to provide desired features
missing in vendors’ enterprise re-
source planning packages. On the
other hand, building a financial sys-
tem in-house is equally daunting and
often feasible only for the largest uni-
versities. The Kuali project was an at-
tractive alternative to the make-or-buy
dilemma. Kuali pools institutional
resources to develop an open source
platform, dramatically reducing the
cost for any single institution. It also
enables institutions to address both
individual and shared requirements
due to the open source nature of the
platform code. This emphasis on ver-
satility is reflected in the project’s
name—Kuali—the Malaysian word
for “humble utensil which plays the
most important role in a successful
kitchen and is used for frying, steam-
ing, braising, blanching, and many
more cooking techniques and styles”
The Kuali effort has grown dramatically. In 2004, it had five development
partners, including one commercial
affiliate.a As of November 2013, it had
72 development partners, including
12 commercial affiliates, all united
through a system of shared values, including collaboration, open source
licensing, transparency, modularity,
reusability, scalability, and accessibility and by projects driven by functional
stakeholders. Adherence is what keeps
the Kuali partners together.
a Commercial affiliates provide guidance, support, implementation, and integration services
for a fee.
Figure 1. The Kuali architecture (from the presentation by the chair of the Kuali Foundation
Board at Kuali Days 2011).