The User Organisation: Structure and Governance in an Open Source Project (Jose Christian, 2015)

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


User communities are a valuable source of innovation, where user-specific 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 reflected 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.


Jose and I are members of CENTRIM – the Centre for Research in Innovation Management.


Also, from @victoria-bondarchuk:

2 posts were split to a new topic: Subcategories and privacy

Just for reference: I don’t think this post has anything which warrants it to be private. I’m eager to discuss about this since I also wrote a relevant thesis Usability in Free Software which tackles organizational structures and collaboration between designers & devs.

But I’ll refrain from getting involved further until this is public.


Thanks, no need for you (or anyone else at trust level 3) to refrain at this level.

Attention, please, to the preamble, in particular the second point:

  • I should check with Jose that the linked version of the document was the final version

When I last saw him, first week of March, he was going away for a couple of weeks.

If the version that was deposited (not by him) is the wrong version, then it will be inappropriate of me to publicly draw attention too soon.

It is a doctoral thesis from 2015 written at the University of Brighton, having been published around then too, with a publicly accessible link and 100+ downloads.

If it’s the wrong version, it should be fixed on there but doesn’t necessitate blocking us talking about a thesis which was published 2 years ago.

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From (2017-05-05):

… three days ago I had a chat with the author about additional things that were learnt through the research. I might see him again next Tuesday (monthly meetings of the Centre).

That meeting was deferred. I saw Jose yesterday (Thursday).