Network tie structure causing OSS group innovation and growth

  • Published March 28, 2017
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    Volume 15 2017, Issue #1, pp. 7-18
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    2 articles

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Open source software (OSS) development as an inexpensive process to develop software threatens proprietary software business strategies. Providing business strategy to benefit from volunteer developers for the purpose of contributing to existing projects, as well as initiating new OSS projects is of utmost significance for companies in that industry. Therefore, it is important to figure out how groups of volunteer developers are formed as new developers join existing projects, and it is even more important to investigate what causes these developers to initiate new projects. The authors investigate network structure as a causal factor for both new project initiation within a group (representing group innovation) as well as new developers joining existing projects within a group (representing group growth). The authors develop four hypotheses:
1. Intra-group coupling has a positive impact on group growth,
2. Inter-group coupling has a positive impact on group innovation,
3. Inter-group structural hole has a positive impact on group innovation,
4. There is a trade-off between the effects of inter-group structural hole and inter-group coupling on group innovation.
The authors test these four hypotheses using data from OSS. Developers contributing to project tasks in groups other than their own can explore novel ideas for new project creation, because they can benefit from sharing knowledge, whereas developers contributing to project tasks inside their own group exploit ideas to improve those existing projects with better inside-group search possibility; and this demands more developers to join those group projects.

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    • Fig. 1. Illustration of both weak and strong ties within and between two groups
    • Fig. 2. Illustration of structural holes
    • Fig. 3. Illustration of theory design on the impact of the three constructs (intra-group coupling and inter-group coupling, as well as inter-group structural holes) on group growth and innovation
    • Fig. 4. Illustration of a,b) shared users implying one developer contributing to similar or different tasks and different projects intra or inter groups, c,d) shared projects implying one project contributed by the same or different developers and differe
    • Fig. 5. Illustration of group of OSS developers co-working on some project tasks from the same group or two connected groups
    • Fig. 6. Illustration of growth and innovation as results of intra-, inter-group couplings and structural holes
    • Fig. 7. Illustration of strategy options to augment the group innovation
    • Table 1. Factors influencing developers to join projects or initiate new projects
    • Table 2. Terminology
    • Table 3. List of variables
    • Table 4. Number of new developers (dependent variable) as a function of independent and control variables
    • Table 5. Number of new projects (dependent variable) as a function of independent and control variables
    • Table 6. Correlation matrix