The Small World Effect: The Influence of Macro Level Properties of Developer Collaboration Networks on Open Source Project Success
ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (TOSEM)
37 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2008 Last revised: 2 Sep 2014
Date Written: June 18, 2010
Are some Open Source Software (OSS) communities more conducive to software development than others? In this study, we investigate the impact of community level networks (relationships that exist among developers in an OSS community) on member developers' productivity. Specifically, we argue that OSS community networks, characterized by small world properties, would positively influence the productivity of the member developers by providing them with speedy and reliable access to more quantity and variety of information and knowledge resources. Specific hypotheses are developed and tested using longitudinal data on a large panel of 4279 projects from 15 different OSS communities hosted at Sourceforge. Our results suggest that there is significant variation in small world properties of OSS communities at Sourceforge. After accounting for project, foundry and time specific observed and unobserved effects, we found statistically significant relationship between small world properties of a community and the technical and commercial success of the software produced by its members. We also found lack of significant relationship between betweenness and closeness centralities of the project teams and their success. These results were robust to a number of controls and model specifications.
Keywords: Open source software development, social networks, small world networks, collaborative software development, econometrics.
JEL Classification: D80, M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation