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

32 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2006

See all articles by Jeffrey Roberts

Jeffrey Roberts

Carnegie Mellon University

Il-Horn Hann

University of Maryland - Decision and Information Technologies Department

Sandra Slaughter

Georgia Institute of Technology (Deceased)

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 differentially impact participation. 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.

Keywords: Open Source Software, Intrinsic Motivation, Extrinsic Motivation, Software Development Performance

Suggested Citation

Roberts, Jeffrey and Hann, Il-Horn and Slaughter, Sandra, Understanding the Motivations, Participation and Performance of Open Source Software Developers: A Longitudinal Study of the Apache Projects. Marshall School of Business Working Paper No. IOM 01-06; Management Science, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=918518

Jeffrey Roberts (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

Il-Horn Hann

University of Maryland - Decision and Information Technologies Department ( email )

Robert H. Smith School of Business
4313 Van Munching Hall
College Park, MD 20815
United States

Sandra Slaughter

Georgia Institute of Technology (Deceased)

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