Developer Turnover in Global, Industrial Open Source Projects: Insights from Applying Survival Analysis

TitleDeveloper Turnover in Global, Industrial Open Source Projects: Insights from Applying Survival Analysis
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLin, B, Robles, G, Serebrenik, A
Secondary Title2017 IEEE 12th International Conference on Global Software Engineering (ICGSE)
Date Published05/2017
Keywordssurvival analysis

Large open source software projects often have
a globally distributed development team. Studies have shown
developer turnover has a significant impact on the project success.
Frequent developer turnover may lead to loss of productivity due
to lacking relevant knowledge and spending extra time learning
how projects work. Thus, lots of attention has been paid to which
factors are related to developer retention; however, few of them
focus on the impact of activities of individual developers.
In this paper, we study five open source projects from
different organizations and examine whether developer turnover
is affected by when they start contributing and what types of
contributions they are making. Our study reveals that developers
have higher chances to survive in software projects when they
1) start contributing to the project earlier; 2) mainly modify
instead of creating files; 3) mainly code instead of dealing with
documentations. Our results also shed lights on the potential
approaches to improving developer retention.


we study five industrial OSS projects of different
sizes (in terms of software size, contributors and number
of companies involved) and examine whether the duration
of developers staying in a project is related to following
four factors: (i) the time of first contribution, (ii) the rate of
maintaining own files, (iii) the main action type, and (iv) the
main job type

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