IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Informational Hold-Up, Disclosure Policy, and Career Concerns on the Example of Open Source Software Development



We consider software developers who can either work on an open source project or on a closed source project. The former provides a publicly available signal about their talent, whereas the latter provides a signal only observed by their employer. We show that a talented employee may initially prefer a less paying job as an open source developer to commercial closed source projects, because a publicly available signal gives him a better bargaining position when renegotiating wages with his employer after the signal has been revealed. Also, we derive conditions under which two effects suggested by standard intuition are reversed: a “pooling equilibrium” (with both talented and untalented workers doing closed source) is less likely if differences in talent are large; a highly visible open source job leads to more effort in a career concerns setup. The former effect is because a higher productivity of talented workers raises not only the value but also the cost of signaling; the latter stems from more effort and the choice of a high visibility job being substitutes for the purpose of signaling. Results naturally apply to other industries with high and low visibility jobs, e.g. academic rather than commercial research, consulting rather than management.

Suggested Citation

  • Marc Blatter & Andras Niedermayer, 2008. "Informational Hold-Up, Disclosure Policy, and Career Concerns on the Example of Open Source Software Development," Working Papers 08-06, NET Institute, revised Sep 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:net:wpaper:0806

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arijit Mukherjee, 2008. "Career Concerns, Matching, And Optimal Disclosure Policy," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(4), pages 1211-1250, November.
    2. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2001. "The open source movement: Key research questions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 819-826, May.
    3. David H. Autor, 2001. "Why Do Temporary Help Firms Provide Free General Skills Training?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1409-1448.
    4. Michael Waldman, 1984. "Job Assignments, Signalling, and Efficiency," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 15(2), pages 255-267, Summer.
    5. Mukherjee, Arijit & Stern, Scott, 2009. "Disclosure or secrecy? The dynamics of Open Science," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 449-462, May.
    6. Bengt Holmström, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 169-182.
    7. Bengt Holmstrom, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 6875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Dongryul Lee & Byung Kim, 2013. "Motivations for Open Source Project Participation and Decisions of Software Developers," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 41(1), pages 31-57, January.
    2. Atal Vidya & Shankar Kameshwari, 2015. "Developers’ Incentives and Open-Source Software Licensing: GPL vs BSD," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 15(3), pages 1381-1416, July.

    More about this item


    Open source software; signaling;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:net:wpaper:0806. 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: (Nicholas Economides). General contact details of provider: .

    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.