This thesis was written in order to gain a deeper understanding of the appropriation of software in groups and organizations. In doing so, it focuses on software created under the modern software engineering trend software ecosystems. Software ecosystems have a major influence on software development, as they rely on massive usage of distributed software development, open source models and modularization. It is unclear if existing models to explain appropriation still hold good. Furthermore, it has to be explored whether current appropriation support is still appropriate and beneficial or if we need new ideas to help users cope with these developments.
In order to achieve these objectives, this work is mainly based on an empirical field study, which investigates workgroups at seven German organizations that use the Eclipse IDE, an extremely modularized and adaptable software system, developed by a globally active ecosystem of large corporations, small businesses and even hobbyists.
Using the qualitative analysis approach of the grounded theory method and appropriation as a lens for this research endeavor, observations and interviews as well as artifacts were analyzed, uncovering practices that are part of Eclipse usage and appropriation. They are identified and discussed from the backdrop of software ecosystems – viewed from a users perspective. Examples are the sheer amount of appropriation activities at the shop floor, the dilemma of software maintenance, that comes with continuously developed but sometimes unstable technology, practices as learning or tailoring, influences on practices stemming from the software ecosystem, the organization and the group.
Grounded in these results, suggestions for the design of appropriation support are given and prototypically implemented, which reflect the embeddedness of individuals and groups in the software ecosystem. They provide a fresh perspective, based on peer-to-peer technology and awareness mechanisms.