IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/mil/wpdepa/2009-14.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Turning private vices into collective virtues: a simple model and an experiment on the SourceForge development community

Author

Listed:
  • Paolo CROSETTO

    ()

Abstract

This paper deals with the allocation of effort across the different software projects that collectively make up the Open Source Software ’ecology’. Free/Libre Open Source Software projects share many features with pure public goods; nonetheless, projects often compete for ’success’ inside the FOSS community at large. The central research question of this paper is then, how do developers choose where to direct their efforts amongst the thousands of existing software projects? How come developers choose to launch new projects when established alternatives are available? Why is the vast majority of Open Source projects a failure? The paper proposes a simple dynamic stochastic model that addresses these issues. Following methodological insight from Duffy (2006), we combine agent based simulations with human subjects lab experiments. As a benchmark, the model is simulated using a simple agent-based code assuming optimizing behaviour and risk neutrality at all times on the part of identical agents. The assumptions on optimal behaviour are then tested in the lab with human subjects, showing persistent and systematic biases in human behaviour: human players tend to be risk propense and to attach value to a label of ’project leadership’. These systematic biases are then built into a new round of simulations, showing a drastically better fit with the real picture, as implied by data from the SourceForge. net dataset, and an enhancement of the evolutionary characteristics of the model (higher project quality in time). Results hints to the fact that in Open Source communities high risk propensity and excessive attachment to one’s own project can be collectively beneficial. FOSS communities appear able to harness the efforts of thousands of developers, turning their risk propension and overconfidence into a collective gain.

Suggested Citation

  • Paolo CROSETTO, 2009. "Turning private vices into collective virtues: a simple model and an experiment on the SourceForge development community," Departmental Working Papers 2009-14, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
  • Handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2009-14
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://wp.demm.unimi.it/files/wp/2009/DEMM-2009_014wp.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Francesco Rullani, 2006. "Dragging developers towards the core," KITeS Working Papers 190, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Feb 2007.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Open Source software; Experimental Economics; Agent-Based Simulation; Risk Propensity; Social Dilemma.;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • L17 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Open Source Products and Markets

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mil:wpdepa:2009-14. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (DEMM Working Papers). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/damilit.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.