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Intrinsic Motivation versus Signaling in Open Source Software Development

Research output: Working paperResearch


  • WP 06-7

    Final published version, 290 KB, PDF document

  • J Bitzer, Free University Berlin, Germany
  • W Schrettl, Free University Berlin, Germany
  • P Schröder

This papers sheds light on the puzzling fact that even though open source software (OSS) is a public good, it is developed for free by highly qualified, young, motivated individuals, and evolves at a rapid pace. We show that when OSS development is understood as the private provision of a public good, these features emerge quite naturally. We adapt a dynamic private-provision-of-public-goods model to reflect key aspects of the OSS phenomenon. Apart from extrinsic motives (namely signaling), the present model also contains intrinsic motives of OSS programmers, such as play value or homo ludens payoff, userprogrammers' and gift culture benefits. Such intrinsic motives feature extensively in the wider OSS literature and contribute new insights to the economic analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Place of publicationAarhus
PublisherAarhus School of Business, Aarhus University, Department of Economics
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2006

    Research areas

  • Open Source software, Public goods, Homo ludens, War of attrition

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