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Open Source Software and the Economics of Organization


  • Giampaolo GARZARELLI

    (Universita' degli Studi di Roma, La Sapienza)


Open source software development has organizational characteristics that are out of the ordinary (e.g., flatter hierarchy, self-organization, self-regulation, and no ownership structure). The study suggests that this organization of work can be explained by combining the recently developed organizational theory of professions with the classic one of clubs. Still, the explanans falls within the broad rubric of the knowledge approach. The claim is in fact that this organization is at least as good as a firm in sharing rich types of information in real time because (a) constituents have symmetry of absorptive capacity, and (b) software itself is a capital structure embodying knowledge. Indeed, in this regard the study goes so far as to suggest that the distinction between input (knowledge) and output (software) is somewhat amorphous because knowledge and software are not only the common (spontaneous) standards, but also the nonrivalrous network products being shared.

Suggested Citation

  • Giampaolo GARZARELLI, 2003. "Open Source Software and the Economics of Organization," Industrial Organization 0304003, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpio:0304003
    Note: Type of Document - PDF; prepared on IBM PC; pages: 21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bresnahan, Timothy F. & Trajtenberg, M., 1995. "General purpose technologies 'Engines of growth'?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 83-108, January.
    2. W. Michael Cox & Richard Alm, 1998. "The right stuff: America's move to mass customization," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, pages 3-26.
    3. Antonelli, Cristiano, 2001. "The Microeconomics of Technological Systems," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199245536.
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    Cited by:

    1. Linus Dahlander & Maureen Mckelvey, 2005. "Who is not developing open source software? non-users, users, and developers," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(7), pages 617-635.
    2. Williams, Michael R. & Hall, Joshua C., 2015. "Hackerspaces: a case study in the creation and management of a common pool resource," Journal of Institutional Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(04), pages 769-781, December.
    3. Garzarelli, Giampaolo & Limam, Yasmina Reem & Thomassen, Bjørn, 2007. "Open Source Software and Economic Growth: A Classical Division of Labor Perspective," MPRA Paper 3849, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Rullani, Francesco, 2005. "The three dimensions of a communitarian institution. The Open Source Software Community Case," AICCON Working Papers 16-2005, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.

    More about this item


    open source software; economics of organization; economics of professions; clubs; technological clubs; new economy;

    JEL classification:

    • D2 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
    • L2 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior
    • L5 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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