Free-Riders and the Motivations that Keep OSS Developers Writing Code
A Look at the Collective Action Problem
I ♥ the open web. Film photographer and mediocre darkroom printer. Maker of sometimes interesting things. Doctorate Student and DM Design and Innovation Fellow @ Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
Researchers have grown accustomed to exploring the depths of open source software as a public good. The collective action model applies given the nature of provisioning—open source software is non-excludable and non-rivalry (Hippel & Krogh, 2003). Individual contributors author software or code that they and the public at large have free access to utilize as they see fit, while the group can use the software or code without contributing. Given the non-excludability of open source software, this creates free riders—those who benefit from that good on equal terms with those who contribute (Hardin & Cullity, 2003).
As OSS has gained usage momentum beyond small bands of individual contributors into the masses at large, the need to understand how maintainable motivation for those contributors works. In this talk, Justin Ribeiro explores the current state of the research regarding motivations in OSS as well with a look forwards towards the impact of free riders and how their behavior affects the nature of contribution from authors within OSS.