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Open Source Software (OSS) has grown in importance over the last few decades and now constitutes an important part of the software market particularly in mobile and web technology. In this paper, we provide a preliminary theoretical framework for analyzing currently unexamined issues regarding developer participation in OSS and competition between open source and proprietary software. We start by looking at the upstream market where developers voluntarily contribute effort into the development of OSS without claiming any copyright for their contributions. We explore the relationship between open source licensing and developers' effort provision and suggest an empirical test of developer motivation based on the results of our model. We also look at issues of competition in the software market downstream and provide some conjectures of how proprietary competition can influence upstream OSS development under different license regimes.

Published Citation

Atal, V., & Shankar, K. (2016). Open questions in open source: Exploring incentives, licensing and competition. Economics Bulletin, 36(3), 140-152.

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