Essential Properties of Open Development Communities. Supporting Growth, Collaboration, and Learning

Open development has emerged as a method for creating versatile and complex products through free collaboration of individuals. This free collaboration forms globally distributed teams. Similarly, it is common today to view business and other human organizations as ecosystems, where several participating companies and organizations co-operate and compete together. For example, open source software development is one area where community driven development provides a plausible platform for both development of products and establishing a software ecosystem where a set of businesses contribute their own innovations. Equally, open learning environments and open innovation platforms are also gaining ground. While such initiatives are not limited to any specific area, they typically offer a technological, legal, social, and economic framework for development. Moreover, they always rely on the associated community, the people.

Open development would not exist without the active participation of keen developers. However, people are fickle. Firstly, as one of the main driving forces for participation is own interest, “scratching your own itch”, the question of how to grow and support open development rises to the forefront. Further it leads to ask what contributes to making open development successful. This is especially crucial when the product has business value. Secondly, as open development has its own governance methods and development guidelines, one is led to ask, how learning these could be facilitated, and how community participation could be supported.

This doctoral dissertation gives insight on tools and techniques that help in dealing with the multi-faceted challenge of working with and growing an open development community. It discusses these through a framework covering the five key aspects of open development: the people in and the purpose of the community, the product developed by the community and the policies and the platform the community needs to function. The thesis presents work on establishing and monitoring an open development community in two different settings: a Free/Libre/Open Source Software(FLOSS) business environment and open education. The research covers going ahead with open development within the FLOSS ecosystem both from the point of view of the product and the business environment. Additionally, this thesis offers research on how developers can learn open development methods. It introduces academic open development communities through which the developers can adopt collaborative development skills. The research presented paves the way for gaining further knowledge in growing thriving open development communities.

Terhi Kilamo (Tampere University of Technology): Essential Properties of Open Development Communities. Supporting Growth, Collaboration, and Learning