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"Free/Libre Open Source Software Development in Developing and Developed Countries: An Exploratory Study"

Ramanath Subramanyam and Mu Xia


First Author :

Ramanath Subramanyam
Business Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business
1206 S. Sixth Street, MC 706
Champaign, IL 61820

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Second Author :

Mu Xia
Business Administration
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business
1206 S. Sixth Street, M/C 706
Champaign, IL 61820

Abstract :
How do participants in free/libre open source software (henceforth FL/OSS) development in different countries differ in the preference for such public good initiatives? How do their incentives to participate in FL/OSS development differ across global boundaries? This exploratory study performs a comparative analysis of generic motivations and project-level preferences of FL/OSS participation across North American, Chinese and Indian development communities. We find that while intrinsic motives such as sharing and learning are present in all three regions, they are stronger for North America programmers than their Chinese and Indian counterparts. Extrinsic motives such as financial benefits are more pronounced in China and India than NA. In project-level preferences, Indian programmers are more drawn to modular projects than their NA or Chinese peers. Finally, generic motivations are found to be related to project-level preferences for developing country programmers, while the link is insignificant for NA programmers. We also show the implications of these findings for government policies, especially those of developing countries.
Keywords :
Cultural differences, Developer motivations, Open Source Software, Software development
Footnotes & Acknowledgements :
Both authors contributed equally. We thank UIUC CIBER for their support for the project, all the seminar participants at University of Illinois and Georgia Institute of Technology for their comments. We particularly thank Cynthia Beath for her detailed and insightful comments on an earlier version of this paper. We are also grateful for Kexin “Katherine” Zhao and Woo-je Cho for their excellent research assistance.
Manuscript Received : 2006
Manuscript Published : 2006
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