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Free/Libre Open Source Software Development in Developing and Developed Countries: An Exploratory Study


  • Subramanyam, Ramanath

    (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

  • Xia, Mu

    (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)


How do participants in free/libre open source software (henceforth FL/OSS) development in different countries differ in the preference for such public good initiatives? How do their incentives to participate in FL/OSS development differ across global boundaries? This exploratory study performs a comparative analysis of generic motivations and project-level preferences of FL/OSS participation across North American, Chinese and Indian development communities. We find that while intrinsic motives such as sharing and learning are present in all three regions, they are stronger for North America programmers than their Chinese and Indian counterparts. Extrinsic motives such as financial benefits are more pronounced in China and India than NA. In project-level preferences, Indian programmers are more drawn to modular projects than their NA or Chinese peers. Finally, generic motivations are found to be related to project-level preferences for developing country programmers, while the link is insignificant for NA programmers. We also show the implications of these findings for government policies, especially those of developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Subramanyam, Ramanath & Xia, Mu, 2006. "Free/Libre Open Source Software Development in Developing and Developed Countries: An Exploratory Study," Working Papers 06-0110, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecl:illbus:06-0110

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Ashish Arora & Alfonso Gambardella, 2005. "The Globalization of the Software Industry: Perspectives and Opportunities for Developed and Developing Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 1-32 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Pamela D. Morrison & John H. Roberts & Eric von Hippel, 2000. "Determinants of User Innovation and Innovation Sharing in a Local Market," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 46(12), pages 1513-1527, December.
    7. Jeffrey A. Roberts & Il-Horn Hann & Sandra A. Slaughter, 2006. "Understanding the Motivations, Participation, and Performance of Open Source Software Developers: A Longitudinal Study of the Apache Projects," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 52(7), pages 984-999, July.
    8. 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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