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Code Reuse in Open Source Software

  • Stefan Haefliger

    ()

    (Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, ETH Zurich, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Georg von Krogh

    ()

    (Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, ETH Zurich, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland)

  • Sebastian Spaeth

    ()

    (Department of Management, Technology, and Economics, ETH Zurich, CH-8032 Zurich, Switzerland)

Registered author(s):

    Code reuse is a form of knowledge reuse in software development that is fundamental to innovation in many fields. However, to date there has been no systematic investigation of code reuse in open source software projects. This study uses quantitative and qualitative data gathered from a sample of six open source software projects to explore two sets of research questions derived from the literature on software reuse in firms and open source software development. We find that code reuse is extensive across the sample and that open source software developers, much like developers in firms, apply tools that lower their search costs for knowledge and code, assess the quality of software components, and have incentives to reuse code. Open source software developers reuse code because they want to integrate functionality quickly, because they want to write preferred code, because they operate under limited resources in terms of time and skills, and because they can mitigate development costs through code reuse.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1070.0748
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    Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

    Volume (Year): 54 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 1 (January)
    Pages: 180-193

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    Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:54:y:2008:i:1:p:180-193
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    1. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Some Simple Economics of Open," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 197-234, June.
    2. Carliss Y. Baldwin & Kim B. Clark, 2006. "The Architecture of Participation: Does Code Architecture Mitigate Free Riding in the Open Source Development Model?," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1116-1127, July.
    3. Bonaccorsi, Andrea & Rossi, Cristina, 2003. "Why Open Source software can succeed," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1243-1258, July.
    4. Alan MacCormack & John Rusnak & Carliss Y. Baldwin, 2006. "Exploring the Structure of Complex Software Designs: An Empirical Study of Open Source and Proprietary Code," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1015-1030, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Ulrich, Karl, 1995. "The role of product architecture in the manufacturing firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 419-440, May.
    7. Sonali K. Shah, 2006. "Motivation, Governance, and the Viability of Hybrid Forms in Open Source Software Development," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 1000-1014, July.
    8. Henkel, Joachim, 2006. "Selective revealing in open innovation processes: The case of embedded Linux," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 953-969, September.
    9. 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.
    10. Georg von Krogh & Eric von Hippel, 2006. "The Promise of Research on Open Source Software," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 975-983, July.
    11. 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.
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