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Who contributes voluntarily to OSS? An investigation among German IT employees

  • Bitzer, Jürgen
  • Geishecker, Ingo

Based on newly assembled survey data, we analyze which individual characteristics of IT employees are associated with the willingness to participate voluntarily in Open Source Software (OSS) projects. We find that, contrary to common expectations, formal educational attainment is not positively associated with the probability or level of OSS contributions. The group of university dropouts, however, does show a particularly high probability of working on such projects. Furthermore, we obtain the striking and novel finding that work-related OSS activities play an important role in determining voluntary OSS contributions during leisure time. Although one has to be cautious regarding the direction of causality, we interpret this as evidence of career-oriented motives in voluntary OSS contributors. The finding is also reinforced by our more specific analysis of the importance of such motives in determining the actual effort invested in OSS projects.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Research Policy.

Volume (Year): 39 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 165-172

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Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:39:y:2010:i:1:p:165-172
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  1. Bitzer, Jürgen & Schrettl, Wolfram & Schröder, Philipp J. H., 2004. "Intrinsic motivation in open source software development," Discussion Papers 2004/19, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  2. Jürgen Bitzer & Philipp J.H. Schröder, 2005. "The Impact of Entry and Competition by Open Source Software on Innovation Activity," Industrial Organization 0512001, EconWPA.
  3. 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.
  4. Ramon Casadesus-Masanell & Pankaj Ghemawat, 2006. "Dynamic Mixed Duopoly: A Model Motivated by Linux vs. Windows," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1072-1084, July.
  5. Franke, Nikolaus & Shah, Sonali, 2003. "How communities support innovative activities: an exploration of assistance and sharing among end-users," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 157-178, January.
  6. Nicholas Economides & Evangelos Katsamakas, 2006. "Two-Sided Competition of Proprietary vs. Open Source Technology Platforms and the Implications for the Software Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1057-1071, July.
  7. 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.
  8. Hertel, Guido & Niedner, Sven & Herrmann, Stefanie, 2003. "Motivation of software developers in Open Source projects: an Internet-based survey of contributors to the Linux kernel," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1177, July.
  9. Nicholas Economides & Evangelos Katsamakas, 2005. "Linux vs. Windows: A comparison of application and platform innovation incentives for open source and proprietary software platforms+," Working Papers 05-03, NET Institute, revised Sep 2005.
  10. Bitzer, Jurgen & Schroder, Philipp J.H., 2005. "Bug-fixing and code-writing: The private provision of open source software," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 389-406, July.
  11. 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.
  12. Dahlander, Linus & Magnusson, Mats G., 2005. "Relationships between open source software companies and communities: Observations from Nordic firms," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 481-493, May.
  13. David P. Myatt & Chris Wallace, 2002. "Equilibrium Selection and Public-good Provision: The Development of Open-source Software," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 446-461.
  14. David P. Myatt & Chris Wallace, 2002. "Equilibrium Selection and Public Good Provision," Economics Series Working Papers 103, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  15. von Krogh, Georg & Spaeth, Sebastian & Lakhani, Karim R., 2003. "Community, joining, and specialization in open source software innovation: a case study," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1217-1241, July.
  16. Bitzer, Jurgen, 2004. "Commercial versus open source software: the role of product heterogeneity in competition," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 369-381, December.
  17. Josh Lerner & Parag A. Pathak & Jean Tirole, 2006. "The Dynamics of Open-Source Contributors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 114-118, May.
  18. Andrea Bonaccorsi & Silvia Giannangeli & Cristina Rossi, 2006. "Entry Strategies Under Competing Standards: Hybrid Business Models in the Open Source Software Industry," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1085-1098, July.
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