Trust and Community in Open Source Software Production

Fachartikel 154

Innovations- und Technologiemanagement


Open source software production is a successful new innovation model which disproves that only private ownership of intellectual property rights fosters innovations. It is analyzed here under which conditions the open source model may be successful in general. We show that a complex interplay of situational, motivational, and institutional factors have to be taken into account to understand how to manage the “tragedy of the commons” as well as the “tragedy of the anticommons”. It is argued that the success of this new innovation model is greatly facilitated by a well balanced portfolio of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, low costs for contributors and governance mechanisms that do not crowd out intrinsic motivation. At the same time these governance mechanisms depend on and lead to trust based on generalized reciprocity in a self-inforcing way. Though they are developed by the communities themselves, government regulators are heavily involved. Regulators should not blindly apply orthodox economics by increasing the scope and sophistication of regulations for the private appropriation of intellectual property rights und thus hinder the evolvement of this kind of trust in the open source community.

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