Volunteers' participative behaviors in open source software development: the role of extrinsic incentive, intrinsic motivation and relational social capital

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Title: Volunteers' participative behaviors in open source software development: the role of extrinsic incentive, intrinsic motivation and relational social capital
Author: Xu, Bo
Abstract: Open source software is a revolution in software development and represents a new mode of software distribution . The widespread diffusion of Internet access in the early 1990s led to a dramatic acceleration of open source activity . Compared with traditional software development , open source software development is informally organized , loosely structured and lacks the formal control mechanisms used in traditional software development . The success of an open source project depends on the participation of voluntary developers . Currently the research on open source software is focused on understanding the motivations or incentives for open source participation at general level . There has been very little research about the influence of community characteristics on the participants’ behaviors . To better understand the motivations of open source participation , this study integrates incentive factor (reputation gaining , personal software needs , and learning purpose ) , intrinsic motivational factor (enjoyment ) and social relational factors (identification and obligation ) to see how these factors impact participation level in open source communities , and how they work together and complement each other . An empirical study using Web survey methodology was conducted to test the research model . Data were collected from voluntary developers in many open source projects . Using the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM ) method , data analysis showed that most of the research hypotheses were supported . The research findings show that the relational social factors play very important role in motivation of open source project participation . Professional benefits and enjoyment also have influence on participation . Virtual community quality is critical to the success of open source software development , and voluntary developers’ participation can be promoted through community building , including member selection , goal congruence , promotion of interpersonal relationships , and providing work -related and emotional support . The research findings provide theoretical contribution to open source software research , and practical implications for open source project management .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /21234
Date: 2006-05

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Volunteers' participative behaviors in open source software development: the role of extrinsic incentive, intrinsic motivation and relational social capital. Doctoral dissertation, Texas Tech University. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /2346 /21234 .

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