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Open Source Software: Private Provision of a Public Good


  • Justin Pappas Johnson


A simple model of open source software (as typified by the GNU-Linux operating system) is presented. Individual user-programmers decide whether to invest their own effort to develop a software enhancement that will become a public good if so developed. The effect of changing the population size of user-programmers is considered; finite and asymptotic results are given. Welfare results are presented. It is shown that whether development will increase when applications have a modular structure depends on whether the developer base exceeds a critical size. Potential explanations of several stylized facts are given, including why certain useful programs don't get written. Copyright (c) 2002 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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  • Justin Pappas Johnson, 2002. "Open Source Software: Private Provision of a Public Good," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 637-662, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jemstr:v:11:y:2002:i:4:p:637-662

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Vincent Aussilloux, 1998. "Investissement direct à l'étranger et entrée séquentielle sur le marché," Revue Économique, Programme National Persée, vol. 49(3), pages 607-615.
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    5. Chwo-Ming J Yu & Kiyohiko Ito, 1988. "Oligopolistic Reaction and Foreign Direct Investment: The Case of the U.S. Tire and Textiles Industries," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 19(3), pages 449-460, September.
    6. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 42-71, March.
    7. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
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