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Who contributes voluntarily to OSS? An investigation among German IT employees

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  • Jürgen Bitzer
  • Ingo Geishecker, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany
Based on newly assembled survey data, we analyze which individual characteristics of IT employees are associated with the willingness to participate voluntarily in Open Source Software (OSS) projects. We find that, contrary to common expectations, formal educational attainment is not positively associated with the probability or level of OSS contributions. The group of university dropouts, however, does show a particularly high probability of working on such projects. Furthermore, we obtain the striking and novel finding that work-related OSS activities play an important role in determining voluntary OSS contributions during leisure time. Although one has to be cautious regarding the direction of causality, we interpret this as evidence of career-oriented motives in voluntary OSS contributors. The finding is also reinforced by our more specific analysis of the importance of such motives in determining the actual effort invested in OSS projects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Policy
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • Open Source software, Voluntary contribution, Individual characteristics

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