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Is Bigger Always Better?: Toward a Resource-Based Model of Open Source Software Development Communities.

Open Source Software (OSS) has exploded over the last few years as a means of producing high-quality software. The members of OSS project communities develop and support the software on a mostly volunteer basis, usually with no financial remuneration. This software is then made freely available (in both monetary terms and licensing terms) to those who wish to utilize it. Much has been written about the use of OSS in business, motivations of the volunteers, OSS software quality and how OSS communities are organized and governed. Two aspects of OSS that remain unexplored revolve around how an OSS project community is sustained, and whether such a community is necessary for the success of the software. These questions form the basis for this study. In this study, OSS is first demonstrated to have many properties of a public good, with the associated attributes of non-rivalry and non-excludability. Unlike typical public goods, OSS is not subject to underproduction as it may be disjunctively produced. It is not subject to overutilization either, since multiple copies may be made for essentially zero cost. The key issue to be investigated in OSS is neither production nor consumption of the public good, but rather how to sustain the project community which writes, supports, and improves the software. Sustaining this community is possible due to network effects – that is, the software becomes more useful as more individuals use it. Among this body of users are some individuals who are willing to donate their time and talents to the community. A model of community success which proposes that resources furnished by project members are converted into benefits to the community through communication activities is utilized to answer the research questions driving this study. A community must maintain access to a pool of resources such as the time, energy, knowledge and material resources of its members. These resources are converted into benefits for the community through communication activities. Increased communication activities about support and development issues relating to the software lead to a more successful software product and a more successful community, as indicated by higher levels of social capital within the community. A more successful OSS project – in terms of both software and community – will be able to grow through retention of existing members and attraction of new members. These individuals in turn increase the resources available to the community. / A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Management Information Systems in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of
Philosophy. / Spring Semester, 2007. / March 12, 2007. / Open Source, Virtual Communities, Software Development, Open Source Software, Free Software / Includes bibliographical references. / David Paradice, Professor Directing Dissertation; G. Stacy Sirmans, Outside Committee Member; Molly Wasko, Committee Member; Katherine Chudoba, Committee Member.
ContributorsSagers, Glen (authoraut), Paradice, David (professor directing dissertation), Sirmans, G. Stacy (outside committee member), Wasko, Molly (committee member), Chudoba, Katherine (committee member), Department of Management Information Systems (degree granting department), Florida State University (degree granting institution)
PublisherFlorida State University, Florida State University
Source SetsFlorida State University
LanguageEnglish, English
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeText, text
Format1 online resource, computer, application/pdf
RightsThis Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). The copyright in theses and dissertations completed at Florida State University is held by the students who author them.

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