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Uncovering the relationship between OSS user support networks and OSS popularity

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Decision Support Systems
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)142-151
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date10/06/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The open source model of software development has become an attractive alternative to the traditional proprietary approach. However, the incomplete understanding of the phenomenon has continued to prompt researchers to investigate factors that could increase the use and popularity of open source software (OSS). While a key antecedent for OSS use highlighted in the previous literature is the software quality, we propose that effective online user support is also necessary to increase its popularity. As an understudied area, this paper seeks to understand the role of online user support networks in facilitating OSS use. Based on the network embeddedness theory, it suggests that properties of the user support network i.e., variation in structural and junctional embeddedness, measured as the in-degree and betweenness centralizations respectively, would affect OSS popularity in terms of the number of active users and downloads of the software. Testing on a sample of 176 OSS projects from Sourceforge.net, we showed that a negative quadratic relationship exists between the variation in structural embeddedness of the OSS user support network and the software popularity. Further, as hypothesized, the variation in junctional embeddedness was found to positively impact the OSS popularity. Theoretical and practical implications of the study are discussed.