Department of Economics and Business Economics

Is there a wage premium for volunteer OSS engagement? - signalling, learning and noise

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  • Juergen Bitzer, Carl von Ossietzky Univ Oldenburg, Carl von Ossietzky Universitat Oldenburg, Dept Econ
  • ,
  • Ingo Geishecker, European Univ Viadrina, European University Viadrina Frankfurt Oder, Fac Business Adm & Econ
  • ,
  • Philipp J. H. Schroeder

Volunteer-based open-source production has become a significant new model for the organization of software development. Economics often pictures this phenomenon as a case of signalling: individuals engage in the volunteer programming of open-source software (OSS) as a labour-market signal resulting in a wage premium. Yet, this explanation could so far not be empirically tested. This article fills this gap by estimating an upper-bound composite wage premium of voluntary OSS contributions and by separating the potential signalling effect of OSS engagement from other effects. Although some 70% of OSS contributors believe that OSS involvement benefits their careers, we find no actual labour-market premium for OSS engagement. The presence of other motives, such as fun of play or altruism, renders OSS contributions too noisy to function as a signal.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Economics
Volume49
Issue14
Pages (from-to)1379-1394
Number of pages16
ISSN0003-6846
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Signalling, open-source software, voluntary work, peer production, wage formation, OPEN-SOURCE SOFTWARE, OPEN-SOURCE PROJECTS, STATISTICAL DISCRIMINATION, MOTIVATIONS, DEVELOPERS, PARTICIPATION, COMMUNITIES, FORMS, INNOVATION, RETURNS

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