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Intrinsic motivation in open source software development

Author

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  • Bitzer, Jürgen
  • Schrettl, Wolfram
  • Schröder, Philipp J. H.

Abstract

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 for programmers (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.

Suggested Citation

  • Bitzer, Jürgen & Schrettl, Wolfram & Schröder, Philipp J. H., 2004. "Intrinsic motivation in open source software development," Discussion Papers 2004/19, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:fubsbe:200419
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Josh Lerner, 2005. "The Scope of Open Source Licensing," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 21(1), pages 20-56, April.
    2. Bilodeau, Marc & Slivinski, Al, 1996. "Toilet cleaning and department chairing: Volunteering a public service," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 299-308, February.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
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    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 663-680, November.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    open source software; public goods; homo ludens; war of attrition;

    JEL classification:

    • L86 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Information and Internet Services; Computer Software
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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