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“It Takes All Kinds”: A Simulation Modeling Perspective on Motivation and Coordination in Libre Software Development Projects

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  • Jean-Michel Dalle

    (Institut pour le Management de la Recherche et de l'Innovation (IMRI))

  • Paul A. David

    ()
    (Knowledge Networks and Institutions for Innovation Program, Stanford University)

Abstract

This paper presents a stochastic simulation model to study implications of the mechanisms by which individual software developers’ efforts are allocated within large and complex open source software projects. It illuminates the role of different forms of “motivations-at-the-margin” in the micro-level resource allocation process of distributed and decentralized multi-agent engineering undertakings of this kind. We parameterize the model by isolating the parameter ranges in which it generates structures of code that share certain empirical regularities found to characterize actual projects. We find that, in this range, a variety of different motivations are represented within the community of developers. There is a correspondence between the indicated mixture of motivations and the distribution of avowed motivations for engaging in FLOSS development, found in the survey responses of developers who were participants in large projects.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 07-024.

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Date of creation: Dec 2007
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Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:07-024

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Related research

Keywords: free and open source software (FLOSS); libre software engineering; maintainability; reliability; functional diversity; modularity; developers’ motivations; user-innovation; peer-esteem; reputational reward systems; agent-based modeling; stochastic simulation; stigmergy; morphogenesis.;

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  1. Jean-Michel Dalle, 1997. "Heterogeneity vs. externalities in technological competition: A tale of possible technological landscapes," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 7(4), pages 395-413.
  2. 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.
  3. Avner Offer, 1997. "Between the gift and the market: the economy of regard," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 50(3), pages 450-476, 08.
  4. Harhoff, Dietmar & Henkel, Joachim & von Hippel, Eric, 2003. "Profiting from voluntary information spillovers: how users benefit by freely revealing their innovations," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1753-1769, December.
  5. Jean-Michel Dalle & P. A. David & Rishab A. Ghosh & W. E. Steinmueller, 2005. "Advancing Economic Research on the Free and Open Source Software Mode of Production," Industrial Organization 0502007, EconWPA.
  6. 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.
  7. Juan Mateos Garcia & W. Edward Steinmueller, 2003. "The Open Source Way of Working: a New Paradigm for the Division of Labour in Software Development?," SPRU Working Paper Series 92, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
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