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Motivation and Sorting in Open Source Software Innovation

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  • Sharon Belenzon
  • Mark Schankerman

Abstract

This paper studies the role of intrinsic motivation, reputation, and reciprocity in driving open source software innovation. Unlike previous literature based on survey data, we exploit the observed pattern of contributions - the .revealed preference. of developers - to infer the underlying incentives driving the decision to contribute source code. Using detailed information on code contributions and project membership, we classify software developers into distinct types and study how contributions from each developer type vary according to the open source license type and other project characteristics. We find that developers strongly sort by license type, project size, and corporate sponsorship, and that reciprocity is important only for a small subset of projects. We also show that contributions have a substantial impact on the performance of open source projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Sharon Belenzon & Mark Schankerman, 2008. "Motivation and Sorting in Open Source Software Innovation," CEP Discussion Papers dp0893, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0893
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthias Walther, 2010. "Corruption in Open-Source Software Organisations: A Theoretical Framework," Working Papers halshs-00690332, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    open source software; innovation; incentives; intrinsic motivation; motivated agents; reputation; reciprocity;

    JEL classification:

    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets
    • L41 - Industrial Organization - - Antitrust Issues and Policies - - - Monopolization; Horizontal Anticompetitive Practices
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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