Olson's Paradox Revisited: An Empirical Analysis of incentives to contribute in P2P File-Sharing Communities

31 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2008 Last revised: 13 Jul 2010

Sylvain Dejean

CEREGE, University of La Rochelle; Centre de Recherche en Économie et Management (CREM)

Thierry Pénard

Université de Rennes I - Faculte de Sciences Economiques; Centre de Recherche en Économie et Management (CREM); Armorican Mole for Research on the Information Society and Uses of the Internet

Raphaël Suire

Université de Rennes I - Faculte de Sciences Economiques

Date Written: July 1, 2010

Abstract

This article aims to examine how the size of P2P file-sharing communities affects their functioning and performance (i.e. their capacity to share and distribute content). Olson (1965) argued that small communities are more able to provide collective goods. Using an original database on BitTorrent file-sharing communities, our article finds a positive relation between the size of a community and the amount of collective good provided ; However, the individual propensity to cooperate decreases with community size. These two features seem to indicate that P2P file-sharing communities provide a pure (non rival) public good. We also show that specialized communities are more efficient than general communities to encourage cooperative behavior. Finally, the rules designed by the administrators of these communities play an active role to stimulate voluntary contributions and improve the self-sustainability of file-sharing.

Keywords: File-sharing, peer-to-peer, group size, voluntary contribution

JEL Classification: H44, L86

Suggested Citation

Dejean, Sylvain and Pénard, Thierry and Suire, Raphaël, Olson's Paradox Revisited: An Empirical Analysis of incentives to contribute in P2P File-Sharing Communities (July 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1299190 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1299190

Sylvain Dejean (Contact Author)

CEREGE, University of La Rochelle ( email )

La Rochelle, F-17042
France

Centre de Recherche en Économie et Management (CREM) ( email )

7 place Hoche
Rennes, Bretagne 35065
France

Thierry Pénard

Université de Rennes I - Faculte de Sciences Economiques ( email )

7, Place Hoche
35000 Rennes
France

Centre de Recherche en Économie et Management (CREM) ( email )

7 place Hoche
Rennes, Bretagne 35065
France

Armorican Mole for Research on the Information Society and Uses of the Internet ( email )

France

Raphael Suire

Université de Rennes I - Faculte de Sciences Economiques ( email )

7, Place Hoche
35000 Rennes
France

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