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Community-Based Production of Open Source Software: What Do We Know About the Developers Who Participate?

  • Paul David


    (Stanford University)

  • Joseph Shapiro

    (The University of Toledo)

This paper seeks to close an empirical gap regarding the motivations, personal attributes and behavioral patterns among free/libre and open source (FLOSS) developers, especially those involved in community-based production, and its findings on the existing literature and the future directions for research. Respondents to an extensive web-survey’s (FLOSS-US 2003) questions about their reasons for work on FLOSS are classified according to their distinct “motivational profiles” by hierarchical cluster analysis. Over half of them also are matched to projects of known membership sizes, revealing that although some members from each of the clusters are present in the small, medium and large ranges of the distribution of project sizes, the mixing fractions for the large and the very small project ranges are statistically different. Among developers who changed projects, there is a discernable flow from the bottom toward the very small towards to large projects, some of which is motivated by individuals seeking to improve their programming skills. It is found that the profile of early motivation, along with other individual attributes, significantly affects individual developers’ selections of projects from different regions of the size range.

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Paper provided by Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-003.

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Date of creation: Sep 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:sip:dpaper:08-003
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  1. Haruvy Ernan E & Wu Fang & Chakravarty Sujoy, . "Incentives for Developers’ Contributions and Product Performance Metrics in Open Source Development: An Empirical Exploration," IIMA Working Papers WP2005-03-04, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Research and Publication Department.
  2. 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.
  3. Partha, Dasgupta & David, Paul A., 1994. "Toward a new economics of science," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 487-521, September.
  4. Stephen M. Maurer & Suzanne Scotchmer, 2006. "Open Source Software: The New Intellectual Property Paradigm," NBER Working Papers 12148, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Paul David & Francesco Rullani, 2007. "Dynamics of Innovation in an “Open Source” Collaboration Environment: Lurking, Laboring and Launching FLOSS Projects on SourceForge," Discussion Papers 07-022, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  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. Jean-Michel Dalle & Paul A. David & Rishab A. Ghosh & W. E. Steinmueller, 2004. "Advancing Economic Research on the Free and Open Source Software Mode of Production," Discussion Papers 04-003, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  8. Sendhil Mullainathan & Marianne Bertrand, 2001. "Do People Mean What They Say? Implications for Subjective Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 67-72, May.
  9. Henkel, Joachim & von Hippel, Eric, 2003. "Welfare Implications of User Innovation," Working papers 4327-03, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sloan School of Management.
  10. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2005. "The Economics of Technology Sharing: Open Source and Beyond," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 99-120, Spring.
  11. Griliches, Zvi, 1977. "Estimating the Returns to Schooling: Some Econometric Problems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 45(1), pages 1-22, January.
  12. Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Measuring Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1329-1376, 09.
  13. Bitzer, Jurgen & Schrettl, Wolfram & Schroder, Philipp J.H., 2007. "Intrinsic motivation in open source software development," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 160-169, March.
  14. 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.
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