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Intrinsic Motivation in Open Source Software Development

  • Jürgen Bitzer

    (Free University Berlin Department of Economics & Institute for East European Studies)

  • Wolfram Schrettl

    (Free University Berlin Department of Economics & Institute for East European Studies)

  • Philipp J.H. Schröder

    (Aarhus School of Business)

This papers sheds light on the puzzling evidence that even though open source software (OSS) is a public good, it is developed for free by highly qualified, young and motivated individuals, and evolves at a rapid pace. We show that once OSS development is understood as the private provision of a public good, these features emerge quite naturally. We adapt a dynamic private-provision-of-public-goods model to reflect key aspects of the OSS phenomenon. In particular, instead of relying on extrinsic motives (e.g. signaling) the present model is driven by intrinsic motives of OSS programmers, such as user- programmers, play value or 'homo ludens' payoff, and gift culture benefits. Such intrinsic motives feature extensively in the wider OSS literature and contribute new insights to the economic analysis.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/dev/papers/0505/0505007.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0505007.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 04 May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0505007
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 29
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2003. "The Scope of Open Source Licensing," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000140, David K. Levine.
  2. Berger, Helge & Hefeker, Carsten, 2004. "One country, one vote? Labor market structure and voting rights in the ECB," Discussion Papers 2004/10, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  3. David P. Myatt & Chris Wallace, 2002. "Equilibrium Selection and Public Good Provision," Economics Series Working Papers 103, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Hertel, Guido & Niedner, Sven & Herrmann, Stefanie, 2003. "Motivation of software developers in Open Source projects: an Internet-based survey of contributors to the Linux kernel," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1177, July.
  5. Bitzer, Jurgen, 2004. "Commercial versus open source software: the role of product heterogeneity in competition," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 369-381, December.
  6. David P. Myatt & Chris Wallace, 2002. "Equilibrium Selection and Public-good Provision: The Development of Open-source Software," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 446-461.
  7. Marc Bilodeau & Al Slivinski, . "Toilet Cleaning and Department Chairing: Volunteering a Public service," Public Economics 9405001, EconWPA.
  8. Lindenberg, Siegwart, 2001. "Intrinsic Motivation in a New Light," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(2-3), pages 317-42.
  9. Mustonen, Mikko, 2003. "Copyleft--the economics of Linux and other open source software," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 99-121, March.
  10. Bitzer, Jürgen & Schrettl, Wolfram & Schröder, Philipp J.H., 2006. "Intrinsic Motivation versus Signaling in Open Source Software Development," Working Papers 06-7, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  11. Jürgen Bitzer & Philipp J. H. Schröder, 2002. "Bug-Fixing and Code-Writing: The Private Provision of Open Source Software," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 296, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  12. Hendricks, Ken & Weiss, Andrew & Wilson, Charles A, 1988. "The War of Attrition in Continuous Time with Complete Information," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 29(4), pages 663-80, November.
  13. Justin Pappas Johnson, 2002. "Open Source Software: Private Provision of a Public Good," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 11(4), pages 637-662, December.
  14. Bliss, Christopher & Nalebuff, Barry, 1984. "Dragon-slaying and ballroom dancing: The private supply of a public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(1-2), pages 1-12, November.
  15. Zeitlyn, David, 2003. "Gift economies in the development of open source software: anthropological reflections," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1287-1291, July.
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