This research investigates how the value creation interests and activities of different stakeholder groups within one open source software (OSS) project influence the project's development over time.
The authors conducted a case study of OpenSimulator using textual and thematic analyses of the initial four years of OpenSimulator developer mailing list to identify each stakeholder group and guide our analysis of their interests and value creation activities over time.
The analysis revealed that while each stakeholder group was active within the OSS project's development, the different groups possessed complementary interests that enabled the project to evolve. In the formative period, entrepreneurs were interested in the software's strategic direction in the market, academics and SMEs in software functionality and large firms and hobbyists in software testing. Each group retained its primary interest in the maturing period with academics and SMEs separating into server- and client-side usability. The analysis shed light on how the different stakeholder groups overcame tensions amongst themselves and took specific actions to sustain the project.
The authors extend stakeholder theory by reconceptualizing the focal organization and its stakeholders for OSS projects. To date, OSS research has primarily focused on examining one project relative to its marketplace. Using stakeholder theory, we identified stakeholder groups within a single OSS project to demonstrate their distinct interests and how these interests influence their value creation activities over time. Collectively, these interests enable the project's long-term development.
Di Gangi, P., Teigland, R. and Yetis, Z. (2022), "How do different stakeholder groups within an open source software project influence the project's development: a case study of OpenSimulator", Information Technology & People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-10-2021-0751
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