The Dynamics of Open Source Contributors

Posted: 4 Nov 2009

See all articles by Josh Lerner

Josh Lerner

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit; Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Parag A. Pathak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Jean Tirole

University of Toulouse 1 - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI); University of Toulouse 1 - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative (GREMAQ); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

Traditional innovative efforts result in intellectualproperty and results that are controlled by private firms. In contrast,open-source projects yield data that is available for public use with certainrestrictions. Individuals and for-profit firms who contribute to open-sourceprojects must make their improvements to the original project known andavailable to the public. This research investigates the impact of offerings to open source softwareprojects. A literature review discusses issues regarding contributions tosoftware, as well as the economic motivations behind open-source contributions.A panel data set, consisting of approximately 100 open source projects, wascompiled from information garnered from SourceForge, press searches, andproject websites. The number of different references to each individual involved in eachrespective project was tabulated. Individual contributors were furtherdifferentiated into five categories, based upon whether their contribution wasdone on their own behalf or as a function of their employment.Determinedby their email addresses, the contributor's categories included corporateemployees, individual hobbyists, unidentified international contributors,non-profit employees, and technical website contributors. The researchers indicate that this study acts as an initial examination ofthe time series patterns of open source contributions, with the resultsindicating that the distribution of corporate contributions tends to be moresubstantialin large, growing projects. (AKP)

Keywords: Open source software, Organizational affiliations, SourceForge, University employees, Software development, Software industry, University-industry relations, Employees, Motivation, Not-for-profit organizations, Product development

Suggested Citation

Lerner, Josh and Pathak, Parag A. and Tirole, Jean, The Dynamics of Open Source Contributors (2006). Allied Social Science Associations 2006 Annual Meeting. AEA Conference Papers, Vol. , 14 pp 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1497853

Josh Lerner

Harvard Business School - Finance Unit ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6065 (Phone)
617-496-7357 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/jlerner/

Harvard University - Entrepreneurial Management Unit

Cambridge, MA 02163
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Parag A. Pathak

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
E52-391
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Jean Tirole

University of Toulouse 1 - Industrial Economic Institute (IDEI) ( email )

Place Anatole France
21 Allees de Brienne
F-31042 Toulouse Cedex
France
+33 5 61 12 8642 (Phone)
+33 5 61 12 8637 (Fax)

University of Toulouse 1 - Groupe de Recherche en Economie Mathématique et Quantitative (GREMAQ) ( email )

Manufacture des Tabacs
21 Allees de Brienne
Toulouse, 31000
France

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

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