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What Economists Know about Open Source Software - Its Basic Principles and Research Results

Author

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  • Sebastian von Engelhardt

    (School of Economics and Business Administration, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena)

Abstract

For a decade, economists have been fascinated by the phenomenon of open source software (OSS). OSS is marked by free access to the software and its source code. It is developed in a public, collaborative manner by thousands of non-paid volunteers as well as profit seeking firms. Today, OSS is well established in the ICT sector and represents a new intellectual property paradigm. This paper provides an introduction into the topic OSS versus closed source software (CSS, also called 'proprietary' software). After a brief history of OSS and CSS, the differences between the open and the closed source principles and the basic logic of OSS business models are explained. Next, the paper presents what economists know about the OSS phenomena, i.e. gives an overview of the motives of the (non-paid) OSS developers, the institutions of OSS, the effects of OSS on competition, the incentives and role of firms, and finally of open source principle beyond software.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastian von Engelhardt, 2011. "What Economists Know about Open Source Software - Its Basic Principles and Research Results," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-005, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2011-005
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Gonzalez-Barahona, Jesus M. & Robles, Gregorio & Andradas-Izquierdo, Roberto & Ghosh, Rishab Aiyer, 2008. "Geographic origin of libre software developers," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 356-363, December.
    3. Loris Gaio & Alessandro Rossi & Matthijs den Besten & Jean-Michel Dalle, 2009. "Coordination, Division of Labor, and Open Content Communities: Template Messages in Wiki-Based Collections," DISA Working Papers 0903, Department of Computer and Management Sciences, University of Trento, Italy, revised 29 Jul 2009.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nick Bostrom, 2017. "Strategic Implications of Openness in AI Development," Global Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 8(2), pages 135-148, May.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    open source; open source software; intellectual property rights; information and communications technologies;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

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