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Micro-dynamics of Free and Open Source Software Development. Lurking, laboring and launching new projects on SourceForge

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Author Info

  • Paul A. David
  • Francesco Rullani

Abstract

Quantitative methods are employed to describe two fundamental processes in the creation of free (libre) and open source software (FLOSS) that are at work in the collaborative development environment of the SourceForge.Net platform: resource mobilization, and “entrepreneurial initiatives” which generate new development projects. The micro dynamics of the individuals’ involvements in these processes are analysed by defining “activity states” that correspond to “lurking” (contributing to projects without become a member), “laboring” (joining one or more projects as members), and “launching” (founding one or more projects). The transition probability matrices constructed from observations on the activities of 222,835 individuals who registered on SF.net (during a 14-month period, mainly in 2001) characterize first-order Markov chains describing processes that are ergodic. The existence of a limiting “equilibrium” distribution of individual joining and launching activities is used to abstract from effects of transient disturbances (arising from the flow of new registrations), in order to reveal the implications of the underlying entrepreneurial and recruitment dynamics at work on the platform. Although only a small proportion of this cohort of SF.net registrants become even minimally active, and a still smaller proportion among those join projects, the active “core” of project members still numbers in the tens of thousands, and their ranks contain well more a thousand who found new projects. SourceForge is seen to be more than an attractor of projects that are being “born again” under open source licenses: this virtual collaborative development environment shares the regenerative properties of tangible “industrial districts” that give rise to new, innovative enterprises.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy in its series LEM Papers Series with number 2006/26.

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Date of creation: 05 Oct 2006
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Handle: RePEc:ssa:lemwps:2006/26

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Related research

Keywords: Open source software; Collaborative development environments; Industrial districts; Project founding; Project joining; Entrepreneurship and social communication skills; SourceForge; Markov chain models.;

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References

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  1. Fabio M. Manenti & Stefano Comino & Marialaura Parisi, 2005. "From Planning to Mature: on the Determinants of Open Source Take-Off," Industrial Organization 0507006, EconWPA, revised 29 Sep 2005.
  2. Paul A.David, 2005. "Path dependence, its critics and the quest for ‘historical economics’," Economic History 0502003, EconWPA.
  3. Jean-Michel Dalle & Paul David, 2005. "The Allocation of Software Development Resources In ‘Open Source’ Production Mode," Industrial Organization 0502011, EconWPA.
  4. Francesco Rullani, 2006. "Dragging developers towards the core. How the Free/Libre/Open Source Software community enhances developers’ contribution," LEM Papers Series 2006/22, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  5. Bode, Eckhardt & Bickenbach, Frank, 2002. "Markov or not Markov - this should be a question," ERSA conference papers ersa02p024, European Regional Science Association.
  6. Paul David & Dominique Foray & Jean-Michel Dalle, 1998. "Marshallian Externalities And The Emergence And Spatial Stability Of Technological Enclaves," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(2-3), pages 147-182.
  7. Paola Giuri & Gaia Rocchetti & Salvatore Torrisi, 2002. "Open Source Software: From Open Science to New Marketing Models," LEM Papers Series 2002/23, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
  8. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2003. "The Scope of Open Source Licensing," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000140, David K. Levine.
  9. David, Paul A. & Rosenbloom, Joshua L., 1990. "Marshallian factor market externalities and the dynamics of industrial localization," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 349-370, November.
  10. Mario A. Maggioni, 2004. "The Dynamics of Open Source Software Communities and Industrial Districts : the Role of Market and Non-Market Interactions," Revue d'Économie Industrielle, Programme National Persée, vol. 107(1), pages 127-150.
  11. 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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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Free, and yet better than costly goods: open source software
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2008-03-19 23:06:00

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