Community Joining, Progressing and Leaving: Developing an Open Source Participation Lifecycle Model
Open collaborative innovation communities, such as open source projects, established themselves as new organizational form and unite numerous people. A key challenge for these open initiatives is to attract participants and realize their subsequent community progression, termination and re-joining. Yet, membership dynamics are not well understood nor concepts put in relationship. We pursue to provide an overview of different participation phases and antecedents of progression of members. Our analysis of present research identifies four key participation phases, representing member ‘landing’ points, and two core concepts explaining contribution and latent activities on how, and why participants advance. Based on these findings and led by the theory of social learning we develop a participation model describing a consistent framework for community joining, contributing and leaving. This model is able to combine latest research and identify influences affecting progression. We highlight socialization and alliance building among volunteers, and provide insights into causes for membership dynamics. Moreover, we propose a yet lacking pre-participation phase highlighting community selection before joiners interact with the community. Our model solves the puzzle of an end-to-end membership perspective, and helps guiding researchers and community managers in understanding member management and participation behavior.