Motivation of Open Source Developers: Do License Type and Status Hierarchy Matter?

Document Type


Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

International Journal of Open Source Software and Processes


The motivational drivers of open source software developers have been researched by various investigators since about 2000. This work shows that developers are motivated by different extrinsic and intrinsic drivers, among them community aspirations, reciprocity and fairness, creative impulses, and monetary and career ambitions. There has been some work done in studying whether the profile of developer motivations is constant across open source projects or is sensitive to project organizational design. Among the many factors that could influence the mix of motives of OS developers is the license under which the work is performed. Licenses range in openness between those such as the GNU GPL that severely restrict the freedom of developers to mingle their OS code with proprietary code to those such as BSD licenses which allow programmers much greater latitude in integrating open source code with proprietary code. In addition to formal rules, meritocracies emerge to reward effort and performance, and also to direct, coordinate, and control other participants. The authors discuss these variables and how they may be related to motivations.



Published Citation

Allyn, M. R., & Misra, R. B. (2009). Motivation of open source developers: Do license type and status hierarchy matter?. International Journal of Open Source Software and Processes (IJOSSP), 1(4), 65-81.