28 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2003
Date Written: September 2003
In this paper we report on the results of a study of the effort and motivations of individuals to contributing to the creation of Free/Open Source software. We used a Web-based survey, administered to 684 software developers in 287 F/OSS projects, to learn what lies behind the effort put into such projects. Academic theorizing on individual motivations for participating in F/OSS projects has posited that external motivational factors in the form of extrinsic benefits (e.g.: better jobs, career advancement) are the main drivers of effort. We find in contrast, that enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation, namely how creative a person feels when working on the project, is the strongest and most pervasive driver. We also find that user need, intellectual stimulation derived from writing code, and improving programming skills are top motivators for project participation. A majority of our respondents are skilled and experienced professionals working in IT-related jobs, with approximately 40 percent being paid to participate in the F/OSS project.
Keywords: open source, software development
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Lakhani, Karim R. and Wolf, Robert G., Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects (September 2003). MIT Sloan Working Paper No. 4425-03. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=443040 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.443040
By Harvey James