Joining Open Source Communities under Alternatives: Openness Trade-Offs and User Traits Contingency
What are attractive conditions for user and distributed innovations? And, why do users join one innovation context over another? Open initiatives and communities collapse without members. Growing competition among communities and increasing user diversity including participation of firms lead to a challenge in attracting users. This study analyzes the relationship between joining decisions into open source communities and their governance aspects, specifically license constraints, access rights and sponsorship. We draw on a unique dataset of 1480 choice decisions of members of software and content, and furthermore introduce fun and business communities. Our experimental results minimize social bias and reveal openness preferences and trade-offs. We found that access is more important than usage rights and firm involvement is least important. Most crucial is the community product and user behavior. We also find that choices are contingent on participation rationales which cause highly heterogeneous tastes. Our findings solve “nontrivial managerial headaches” and contribute to organizational design, individual behavior, and open collaborative innovation.