The Simple Economics of Open Source

Jeremy Hylton jeremy at cnri.reston.va.us
Thu Apr 20 19:23:26 CEST 2000


A brief article in today's NY Times discusses a new (Feb 2000) paper
explores the economics of open source software:
http://www.nytimes.com/library/financial/columns/042000econ-scene.html
(The article requires user registration.)

The paper itself is available from one of the authors --
http://www.people.hbs.edu/jlerner/simple.pdf

The Simple Economics of Open Source

Abstract: "There has been a recent surge of interest in open
source software development, which involves developers at many
different localtions and organizations sharing code to develop and
refine programs.  To an economist, the behavior of individual
programmers and commercial companies engaged in open source projects
is initially startling.  We highlight the extent to which labor
economics, especially the literature on 'career concerns,' can explain
many of these projects' features.  Aspects of the future of open
source development process, however, remain somewhat difficult to
predict with 'off-the-self' economic models."

The authors are Josh Lerner -- 
    http://www.people.hbs.edu/jlerner/
-- and Jean Tirole -- 
    http://www.elsevier.nl/hes/homepage/cvs/tirole.htm

I haven't read the paper yet, but the abstract and the discussion in
the Times make it sound like a worthwhile read.  Thought I'd share the
pointer to the paper and see if anyone else has read the paper or has
comments on it.

Jeremy







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