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Incentives for Developers’ Contributions and Product Performance Metrics in Open Source Development: An Empirical Exploration

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  • Haruvy Ernan E
  • Wu Fang
  • Chakravarty Sujoy

Abstract

In open source software development, users rather than paid developers engage in innovation and development without the direct involvement of manufacturers. This paradigm cannot be explained by the two traditional models of innovation, the private investment model and the collective action model. Neither model in itself can explain the phenomenon of the open source model or its success. In order to bridge the gap between existing models and the open source phenomenon, we analyze data from a web survey of 160 open source developers. First, we investigate the motives affecting the individual developer’s contributions by comparing and contrasting the incentives from both the traditional private investment and collective action models. Second, we demonstrate that there is a common ground between the private and collective models where private returns and social considerations can coexist. Third, we explore the effect of incentives on the output of innovation—final product performance. The results show that the motivations for individual developer’s contributions are quite different from the incentives that affect product performance.

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Paper provided by Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department in its series IIMA Working Papers with number WP2005-03-04.

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Handle: RePEc:iim:iimawp:wp01873

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  1. West, Joel, 2003. "How open is open enough?: Melding proprietary and open source platform strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1259-1285, July.
  2. Lakhani, Karim R. & von Hippel, Eric, 2003. "How open source software works: "free" user-to-user assistance," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(6), pages 923-943, June.
  3. Donald E. Harter & Mayuram S. Krishnan & Sandra A. Slaughter, 2000. "Effects of Process Maturity on Quality, Cycle Time, and Effort in Software Product Development," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(4), pages 451-466, April.
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  5. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  6. Franke, Nikolaus & Hippel, Eric von, 2003. "Satisfying heterogeneous user needs via innovation toolkits: the case of Apache security software," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1199-1215, July.
  7. Jordan, Gary & Segelod, Esbjörn, 2002. "Software Innovativeness - Knowledge Acquisition, External Linkages and Firm Developmental Processes," FE rapport 2002-392, University of Gothenburg, Department of Business Administration.
  8. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2001. "The open source movement: Key research questions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 819-826, May.
  9. Bruce Kogut & Anca Metiu, 2001. "Open-Source Software Development and Distributed Innovation," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 248-264, Summer.
  10. Marwell, Gerald & Ames, Ruth E., 1981. "Economists free ride, does anyone else? : Experiments on the provision of public goods, IV," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 295-310, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Sharon Belenzon & Mark Schankerman, 2008. "Motivation and sorting in open source software innovation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 51594, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Paul David & Joseph Shapiro, 2008. "Community-Based Production of Open Source Software: What Do We Know About the Developers Who Participate?," Discussion Papers 08-003, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

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