Information systems success in Free and Open Source Software development: Theory and measures

TitleInformation systems success in Free and Open Source Software development: Theory and measures
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsCrowston, K, Howison, J, Annabi, H
Secondary TitleSoftware Process–Improvement and Practice
Keywordsbug fixing, developers, downloads, FLOSS, flossmole, page views, popularity, project success, size, sourceforge, success, team size

Information systems success is one of the most widely used dependent variables in information systems (IS) research, but research on Free/Libre and Open Source software (FLOSS) often fails to appropriately conceptualize this important concept. In this paper, we reconsider what success means within a FLOSS context. We first review existing models of IS success and success variables used in FLOSS research and assess them for their usefulness, practicality and fit to the FLOSS context. Then, drawing on a theoretical model of group effectiveness in the FLOSS development process, as well as an online discussion group with developers, we present additional concepts that are central to an appropriate understanding of success for FLOSS. In order to examine the practicality and validity of this conceptual scheme, the second half of our paper presents an empirical study that demonstrates its operationalization of the chosen measures and assesses their internal validity. We use data from SourceForge to measure the project’s effectiveness in team building, the speed of the project at responding to bug reports and the project’s popularity. We conclude by discussing the implications of this study for our proposed extension of IS success in the context of FLOSS development and highlight future directions for research.


"we continue our examination of success measures using data from Sourceforge..."
"e chose the number of developers (assessed from the records of the project and from bug fixing logs), bug-fixing time, and popularity (assessed from the number of downloads and viewings of project Web pages, and inclusion in distributions). These measures were chosen because they span the reconsidered FLOSS development process discussed above, including inputs (number of developers), process (speed of bug fixing) and output (popularity)."

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