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Understanding the Motivations, Participation, and Performance of Open Source Software Developers: A Longitudinal Study of the Apache Projects

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Author Info

  • Jeffrey A. Roberts

    ()
    (John F. Donahue Graduate School of Business, Duquesne University, Rockwell Hall, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15282)

  • Il-Horn Hann

    ()
    (Marshall School of Business, Bridge Hall 401T, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089)

  • Sandra A. Slaughter

    ()
    (David A. Tepper School of Business, 354 Posner, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213)

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    Abstract

    Understanding what motivates participation is a central theme in the research on open source software (OSS) development. Our study contributes by revealing how the different motivations of OSS developers are interrelated, how these motivations influence participation leading to performance, and how past performance influences subsequent motivations. Drawing on theories of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, we develop a theoretical model relating the motivations, participation, and performance of OSS developers. We evaluate our model using survey and archival data collected from a longitudinal field study of software developers in the Apache projects. Our results reveal several important findings. First, we find that developers' motivations are not independent but rather are related in complex ways. Being paid to contribute to Apache projects is positively related to developers' status motivations but negatively related to their use-value motivations. Perhaps surprisingly, we find no evidence of diminished intrinsic motivation in the presence of extrinsic motivations; rather, status motivations enhance intrinsic motivations. Second, we find that different motivations have an impact on participation in different ways. Developers' paid participation and status motivations lead to above-average contribution levels, but use-value motivations lead to below-average contribution levels, and intrinsic motivations do not significantly impact average contribution levels. Third, we find that developers' contribution levels positively impact their performance rankings. Finally, our results suggest that past-performance rankings enhance developers' subsequent status motivations.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1060.0554
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 52 (2006)
    Issue (Month): 7 (July)
    Pages: 984-999

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:52:y:2006:i:7:p:984-999

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    Related research

    Keywords: open source software; intrinsic motivation; extrinsic motivation; software development performance;

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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Sharon Belenzon & Mark Schankerman, 2008. "Motivation and sorting in open source software innovation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51594, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Hicks, Christian & Pachamanova, Dessislava, 2007. "Back-propagation of user innovations: The open source compatibility edge," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 315-324.
    3. Adler, Paul S. & Chen, Clara Xiaoling, 2011. "Combining creativity and control: Understanding individual motivation in large-scale collaborative creativity," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 63-85, February.
    4. Balka, Kerstin & Raasch, Christina & Herstatt, Cornelius, 2009. "How open is open source: Software and beyond," Working Papers 58, Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Institute for Technology and Innovation Management.
    5. A. Talha Yalta & A. Yasemin Yalta, 2012. "Should Economists Use Open Source Software for Doing Research?," Hacettepe University Department of Economics Working Papers 20127, Hacettepe University, Department of Economics.
    6. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Gastón Llanes, 2011. "Mixed Source," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(7), pages 1212-1230, July.
    7. Subramanyam, Ramanath & Xia, Mu, 2006. "Free/Libre Open Source Software Development in Developing and Developed Countries: An Exploratory Study," Working Papers 06-0110, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
    8. Rullani, Francesco & Haefliger, Stefan, 2013. "The periphery on stage: The intra-organizational dynamics in online communities of creation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 941-953.
    9. Gächter, Simon & von Krogh, Georg & Haefliger, Stefan, 2010. "Initiating private-collective innovation: The fragility of knowledge sharing," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 893-906, September.
    10. Krishnamurthy, Sandeep & Tripathi, Arvind K., 2009. "Monetary donations to an open source software platform," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 404-414, March.
    11. Boris van Leeuwen & Theo Offerman & Arthur Schram, 2013. "Superstars Need Social Benefits: An Experiment on Network Formation," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-112/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    12. Dongryul Lee & Byung Kim, 2013. "Motivations for Open Source Project Participation and Decisions of Software Developers," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 41(1), pages 31-57, January.

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