Open Source Software and Firm Productivity
59 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2015 Last revised: 5 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 3, 2017
As open source software (OSS) is increasingly used as a key input by firms, understanding its impact on productivity becomes critical. This study measures the firm-level productivity impact of non-pecuniary (free) OSS and finds a positive and significant value-added return for firms that have an ecosystem of complementary capabilities. There is no such impact for firms without this ecosystem of complements. Dynamic panel analysis, instrumental variables, and a variety of robustness checks are used to address measurement error concerns and to add support for a more causal interpretation of the results. For firms with an ecosystem of complements, a 1% increase in the use of non-pecuniary OSS leads to an increase in value-added productivity of between 0.002% and 0.008%. This effect is smaller for larger firms and the results indicate that prior research underestimates the amount of IT firms use.
Keywords: Economics of IT, open source software, firm productivity, digital dark matter
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