The Impact of Release Management on Open-Source Software Co-Creation
43 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2018 Last revised: 1 Mar 2019
Date Written: March 5, 2018
The open-source software (OSS) production model has been gaining ground and even expanding to a broader class of products. A central virtue of OSS is co-creation through contributions and feedback from the user community, yet our knowledge of how to coordinate and maximize the benefit of such co-creation for market success is limited. In this paper, we propose that deliberate product release timing can be an important capability to orchestrate open source community contributions and maximize their benefit. We develop, formalize, and estimate a dynamic structural model to study the impact of product release management as a coordinating mechanism in peer production. We find that a deliberate and moderate release frequency, contingent on the installed base of the project, its quality enhancement, and the license type of the software, contributes to project success. Our results show that it would be optimal for early-stage projects to release more often. As the installed base increases, it is beneficial to release less often. We also find that there exists a curvilinear (inverse-U) relationship between the release frequency and the community contributions. Hence, excessive releasing may risk exhausting the community. Furthermore, even though the project may benefit from a new release, there also exists a release cost. The OSS team then has to balance between the two by carefully managing the release pace. We also find that projects with different license types may have different optimal release timing. These results may have important implications for managing technology-enabled, crowd-based collaboration in open innovation communities beyond open-source software development, launch, and adoption.
Keywords: Peer Production, Open-Source Software, Release Management, Structural Modeling, Community Contributions, License, Downloads
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