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First Monday: Altruistic Individuals, Selfish Firms?

Jan 13, 2004, 21:00 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andrea Bonaccorsi, Cristina Rossi)

"A growing body of economic literature is addressing the issue of incentives for individuals who take part in the Open Source Software (OSS) movement, while empirical analyses focus on individual developers but neglect firms that do business with it. During 2002, we conducted a large-scale survey on 146 Italian firms supplying OSS in Italy and this paper compares our data on firms' motivations with data emerging from surveys made on individual programmers. Our objective is to analyse the role played by different classes of motivations (social, economic and technological) in determining the involvement of different groups of agents in Open Source activities.

"The founding fathers of the Open Source movement trace programmers' enthusiasm for it back to the values of the hacker culture (Raymond, 2001). A number of motivations, some socially linked (altruism and fighting for software freedom) and others of a hedonistic nature (fun in programming) are considered to be the underlying reasons. However, technological considerations also come into the picture when the prospect of engaging in Open Source activities is concerned. An open code permits the flow of feedback from developers and users, which is very useful for improving software..."

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