open source software, public goods, homo ludens, war of attrition
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This papers sheds light on the puzzling evidence that even though
open source software (OSS) is a public good, it is developed for free
by highly qualified, young and motivated individuals, and evolves at a
rapid pace. We show that once 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. In particular, instead
of relying on extrinsic motives for programmers (e.g. signaling) the
present model is driven by intrinsic motives of OSS programmers, such
as user-programmers, play value or homo ludens payoff, and gift culture
benefits. Such intrinsic motives feature extensively in the wider
OSS literature and contribute new insights to the economic analysis.
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