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Determinants of success in open source software networks

Luis V. Casaló (Department of Business Studies, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)
Jesús Cisneros (Department of Business Studies, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)
Carlos Flavián (Department of Business Studies, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)
Miguel Guinalíu (Department of Business Studies, University of Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Article publication date: 24 April 2009




Open source software (OSS) products have rapidly acquired a notable importance in the last years among consumers and firms all over the world. They are mostly developed and distributed through online social networks thanks to the voluntary and collaborative actions of their members. However, their innovation and development has to face up the existence of free‐riders which can benefit from the knowledge developed in the online social network. This paper aims to understand the factors that moderate the opportunistic behaviour in OSS development and distribution, which will help to correctly manage the OSS innovations.


The influence of reputation on members' satisfaction and participation intentions in OSS online social networks are measured. Additionally, the impact of being an active and satisfied member on his/her commitment and intention to use the OSS products are studied. After the validation of measurement scales the hypotheses are contrasted with structural modelling.


This research show that perceived reputation acts as a deterrent factor of free‐riders. More specifically, reputation exerts a positive and significant effect on member's satisfaction with previous interactions and an indirect effect on participation intentions in the social network through satisfaction. Besides, these two outcomes of reputation boost the members' affective commitment to the OSS and, as a consequence, the intention to use OSS products is also increased.

Practical implications

Reputation and satisfaction are two crucial aspects in explaining the success of an online social network since they serve to guarantee the interaction among its members. In addition, participation continuance intentions in an online network may help to increase the levels of affective commitment and loyalty to the mutual interest of the network (the OSS in this case). This result may be especially relevant for commercial networks, which are based on the admiration to a brand, firm or product.


The analysis of online social networks as a development and distribution channel and the role of reputation in promoting members' participation (that is, avoiding opportunistic behaviour) represent a new contribution to the analysis of online social networks. This research field has acquired a notable popularity in recent years.



Casaló, L.V., Cisneros, J., Flavián, C. and Guinalíu, M. (2009), "Determinants of success in open source software networks", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 109 No. 4, pp. 532-549.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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