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Peripheral Developers Increase Product Quality

Peripheral Developers Increase Product Quality

An information systems researcher has found that peripheral developers – those outside the core development team – make important contributions to product quality and significantly influence product awareness and adoption.

“Our interviews suggest that peripheral developers are very active promoters of the products they’re involved with,” said Pankaj Setia, assistant professor in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “Using personal channels such as blogs and websites, these volunteer developers associate their identities with these products, and in this process, they become the ideal product emissaries. Working outside the traditional software development paradigm, they have greater credibility with potential consumers.”

Open-source software development is based on the community paradigm in which source code for software is available for anyone to study, change and improve. In contrast to the proprietary approach, open-source development relies on ideas from external developers and prospective users.

Examples of open-source software products include content-management systems such as Drupal, Joomla! and MySQL. The popular Web browsers Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome began as open-source software products.

Setia and his colleagues used longitudinal data from 147 open-source software products. The researchers asked, among other things, if peripheral developers have a positive impact on product dissemination.

The results showed that peripheral developers served as sources of information to enhance product awareness and adoption. This occurred through word-of-mouth via blogs, websites and other online communities. Setia said software firms should not underestimate the significance of this finding.

“Our study has important implications for marketing managers at firms espousing open innovations,” he said. “The peripheral participants may be an important way for marketing managers to bridge different types of product promotion. In other words, they may not have to choose between mass advertising and the more personalized effect of promotion via word-of mouth.”

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