Incentives for Developers’ Contributions and Product Performance Metrics in Open Source Development: An Empirical Exploration
In open source software development, users rather than paid developers engage in innovation and development without the direct involvement of manufacturers. This paradigm cannot be explained by the two traditional models of innovation, the private investment model and the collective action model. Neither model in itself can explain the phenomenon of the open source model or its success. In order to bridge the gap between existing models and the open source phenomenon, we analyze data from a web survey of 160 open source developers. First, we investigate the motives affecting the individual developer’s contributions by comparing and contrasting the incentives from both the traditional private investment and collective action models. Second, we demonstrate that there is a common ground between the private and collective models where private returns and social considerations can coexist. Third, we explore the effect of incentives on the output of innovation—final product performance. The results show that the motivations for individual developer’s contributions are quite different from the incentives that affect product performance.
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