Passion for Participation The Importance of Creating Support for Motivation

University dissertation from Sundsvall : Mid Sweden University

Abstract: This thesis provides a study of an open source software project that focuses on the software development of an e-service in a municipal context. The focus is on environmental factors that either limit or promote the motivation to participate in the open source project, the "Parent-Teacher Meeting" project, a web-based communication and information channel whose purpose is to enhance the contacts between schools and parents. The empirical context is situated at the point where traditional information systems (IS) development meets new perspectives regarding organizational structures and boundaries and, as such, provides example of ongoing cross-organizational activities that break current local organizational standards. The objective of this study is to gain a deeper understanding of motivational factors for participation and adopts a sociocultural view on the topic motivation to participate.The empirical material was collected through interviews, conversations, and meetings. Being a subproject (i.e. an initiative to develop an open source software application) within a triple helix project I found an extensive number of stakeholders. The choice was made to focus on the application development; thereby a central group of participants within the development project team was found and these became the focus within the study. Moreover, I have, in this thesis, chosen to conduct a contextual description of the participants and the course of events that lead to the start of the project of study. This has been done so as to present the context, which is the focus for this study, to the reader and to be able to use these descriptions within the analysis.I have, methodologically, approached the problem from a descriptive angle with an interpretative character using a qualitative case study design. Within the thesis, the means by which the case study has been conducted is presented; i.e. the decision regarding research focus, design, and my role as researcher. In relation to the data collection, the main source has been semi-structured interviews, which is consistent with an interpretive case study character and in which my intent is to highlight conditions and events that are important to both groups within the development team.To support the investigation of those factors that can explain and assist with the interpretation of my empirical data, my description and interpretations are built on a theoretical framework based on concepts from IS theories and theories relating to human motivation. The framework, self-determination theory (SDT), is used as a lens to direct the focus onto the situated conditions that influence how individuals experience their participation within the software development project. Given the theoretical basis of an analytical comparison of ideal types of software development constructs, together with influences from motivational theories, the analytical framework used for collecting occurrences of motivational behavior and sociocultural conditions has been constructed.After the findings and my interpretation of them with the assistance of my analytical framework have been presented, a discussion and conclusions are then detailed. The conclusions of the study are argued as being relevant as an explanation for the understanding of intrinsic and internalized extrinsic motivation to participate in a hybrid open source projects. The study contributes to our understanding of some of the challenges that are to be considered when putting together and managing systems or software development processes. In this way, the study may provide some basis for improving and meeting new demands regarding how development is adopted in a mixed scenario and this provides valuable knowledge to both practice and IS research.