The User Organisation: Structure and Governance in an Open Source Project

  • Jose Christian

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


User communities are a valuable source of innovation, where user-specfic ideas and prototypes are developed and shared freely. Firms have begun to acknowledge the extent of their value at each stage of the innovation process, often resulting in commercially successful products. The current understanding of user communities, however, relies heavily on the study of software developers working on established open source projects. In recent years, with the emergence of web-based information and communication technology, open source projects and hacker communities have become much more complex, supporting a wider range of contributions from a diverse group of actors. While these technological advances have led to changes in the collaborative innovation, they have not been re ected in the user innovation literature. Using the CyanogenMod project as a case study, this study explores how a user community manages multiple forms of contributions for the creation of multiple products and services. This study finds that the multiple forms of contributions create a number of communities of practice within the project, each with its own governance mechanism and leadership structure. In addition, the findings show that the activities of the different communities within the project are managed centrally by a separate leadership team who are responsible for setting and implementing long-term plans for the direction of the project as a whole. In light of these findings, this study proposes that the governance and social structures observed in the CyanogenMod project resemble a User Organisation rather than a user community, where the control over the stages of innovation can give users control over the direction and outcomes of the project.
Date of AwardOct 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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