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