Effects of Empowerment on Performance in Open-source Software Projects

Weiling Ke, Ping Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


An enduring issue that intrigues researchers and practitioners in open-source software (OSS) development is what motivates individuals to participate and make contributions, given the lack of numerating mechanisms. Amidst several end-state-focused motives advocated by prior studies (such as improved programming skills and future career growth), we add that an important contributing factor is empowerment , the positive feelings derived from task assessments in OSS projects. Through survey data collected from 233 OSS participants, we assess how components of psychological empowerment (i.e., autonomy, competence, meaningfulness, and impact) derived from OSS tasks may affect the work output of participants. In particular, we demonstrate that competence and impact have a positive influence on OSS participants performance, while autonomy and meaningfulness have a slightly negative influence on performance. In addition, empowerments effects on performance can be mediated by effort expended. Theoretical contributions and managerial implications of this study are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5680956
Pages (from-to)334-346
Number of pages13
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2011


  • Empowerment
  • open-source software (OSS)
  • software-development participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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