Skip to main content

Rethinking free, libre and open source software


This special issue includes seven articles that make significant contribution to the literature pertaining to knowledge and public policy around Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS). Focusing on questions in two themes (i) motivation and organization and (ii) public policy, the articles in this volume develop new analytic models and report on new empirical findings, as an important step in bridging the wide gap that exists in public policy literature around FLOSS. Warning against rhetorical pitfalls that have been prevalent in FLOSS research, this introduction starts with a short history of FLOSS development, continues with a brief thematic literature review and review of the misconceptions surrounding FLOSS, and concludes with a first introduction of the articles that follow.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Abbate, J. 1993. An Archeology of the ARPANET. Boston: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bergquist, M., & Ljungberg, J. 2001. The power of gifts: organizing social relationships in open source communities. Information Systems Journal, 11: 305–320.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bezroukov, N. 1999. Open Source Software Development as a Special Type of Academic Research (Critique of Vulgar Raymondism). First Monday. Peer reviewed journal on the Internet, 4(10): downloaded from the Internet: (December 2004).

  • Bollier, D. 2001. Public Assets, Private Profits; Reclaiming the American Commons in an age of Market Enclosure. Washington: New America Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bonaccorsi, A., & Rossi, C. 2003a. Comparing motivations of individual programmers and firms to take part in the Open Source movement. From community to business., Unpublished paper. Laboratory of Economics and Management, Sant’ Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy. Downloaded from the Internet: (December 2004).

  • Bonaccorsi, A., & Rossi, C. 2003b. Why Open Source Software can succeed. Research Policy, 32(7): 1243–1258.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Butler, B., Sproull, L., Kiesler, S., & Kraut, R. forthcoming. Community effort in online groups: Who does the work and why? In S. Weisband, & L. Atwater (Eds.), Leadership at a distance: Erlbaum.

  • Dalle, J.-M., & Jullien, N. 2003. ‘Libre’ software: turning fads into institutions? Research policy, 32(1): 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Demil, B., & Lecocq, X. 2003. Neither market nor hierarchy or network: the emerging bazaar governance. Unpublished research paper, downloaded from the Internet: (December 2004).

  • González-Barahona, J. M., & Robles, G. (2003). Free Software Engineering: A Field to Explore. UPGRADE: the European Journal for the Informatics Professional, IV(4): 2–7.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hars, A., & Ou, S. 2002. Working for Free? Motivations for Participating in Open-Source Projects. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 6(3): 25–39.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hertel, G., Niedner, S., & Herrmann, S. 2003. Motivation of software developers in Open Source projectis: an Internet-based survey of contributors to the Linux kernel. Reserch Policy, 32(7): 1159–1177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Himanen, P. 2001. The Hacker Ethic and the spirit of the Information Age. New York: Random House.

    Google Scholar 

  • Von Hippel, E., & Von Krogh, G. 2003. Open Source Software and “Private-Collective” Innovation Model: Issues for Organization Science. Organization Science, 14(2): 209–223.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Iannacci, F. 2002. The Economics of Open-Source Networks. Communications & Strategies, 48(4).

  • Kuwabara, K. 2000. Linux: A Bazaar at the Edge of Chaos. First Monday. Peer reviewed journal on the Internet, 5(3): downloaded from the Internet: (December 2004).

  • Laan, M. 2003. Amsterdam is duur Microsoft zat (Amsterdam is fed up with expensive Microsoft), Het Parool: 9. Amsterdam.

  • Lakhani, K., & Von Hippel, E. 2003a. How Open Source Software Works: “Free” User-to-User Assistance. Research Policy, 32(7): 922–943.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lakhani, K., & Wolf, R. G. 2003b. Why Hackers Do What They Do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software Projects. Boston: MIT Sloan Working Paper no. 4425-03, downloaded from the Internet: (November 2004).

  • Lerner, J., & Tirole, J. 2002. Some simple economics of open source. Journal of Industrial Economics, 50(2): 197–234.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lin, Y. 2004. Contextualizing knowledge-making in Linux user groups. First Monday. Peer reviewed journal on the Internet, 9(11):

  • Ljungberg, J. 2000. Open source movements as a model for organising. European Journal of Information Systems, 9(4): 208–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Markus, M. L., Manville, B., & Agres, C. E. 2000. What Makes a Virtual Organization Work? Sloan Management Review, 42(1): 13–26.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mauss, M. 1990. The gift: the form and reason for exchange in archaic societies. London: W. W. Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Naughton, J. 1999. A brief history of the Future; The origins of the internet (second ed.). London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Mahony, S. C. 2003. Guarding the Commons: How Community Managed Software Projects Protect Their Work. Research Policy, 32(7): 1179–1198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raymond, E. S. 1999. The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source from an Accidental Revolutionary. Sebastapol: O’Reilly.

    Google Scholar 

  • Raymond, E. S. 2000. Homesteading the Noosphere. First Monday. Peer reviewed journal on the Internet, 4(10): downloaded from the Internet: (December 2004).

  • Sharma, S., Sugumaran, V., & Rajagopalan, B. 2002. A framework for creating hybrid-open source software communities. Information systems Journal, 12(1): 7–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Torvalds, L., & Diamond, D. 2001. Gewoon voor de fun (Just for Fun) (C. Jongeneel, Trans.). Uithoorn: Karakter Uitgevers.

    Google Scholar 

  • Van Wendel de Joode, R., De Bruijn, J. A., & Van Eeten, M. J. G. 2003. Protecting the Virtual Commons; Self-organizing open source communities and innovative intellectual property regimes. The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wayner, P. 2000. FREE FOR ALL: How Linux and the Free Software Movement Undercut the High-Tech Titans. New York: HarperBusiness.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weber, S. 2004. The Success of Open Source. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wichmann, T. 2002. FLOSS Final Report Part 2. Firms’ open source activities: motivations and policy implications. Berlin: Berlecon Research GmbH.

    Google Scholar 

  • Zeitlyn, D. 2003. Gift economies in the development of open source software: Anthropological reflections. Research Policy, 32(7): 1287–1291.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

He is part of the Dutch Institute of Government (NIG), the research school for public administration and political science. His research focuses on the organization of open source communities. He received two grants from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) for research related to open source communities. The first grant was to study the interplay between intellectual property rights and open source communities. The results are published in Governing the Virtual Commons (Cambridge University Press, 2003). He has written numerous articles on open source, which have appeared in journals like Electronic Markets; Knowledge, Technology and Policy; and the International Journal of IT Standards & Standardisation Research.

She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of York (UK) in 2004. Her Ph.D. research investigated the heterogeneity and contingency in the Free, Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS) social worlds, which is based on a constellation of hacking practices, from the sociological perspective. Her principal research interests center on FLOSS studies, Science and Technology Studies (STS), virtual communities and knowledge-sharing.

Shay is also a fellow at The Information Society Project at the Yale Law School. Shay holds a B.Sc. in computer science and a B.A. in philosophy, magna cum laude, from Tel-Aviv University, and an M.A. from New York University where his interdisciplinary research thesis focused on the political economy of free and open source software and file sharing networks. Shay is an entrepreneur that co-founded two software start-up companies, and was involved for several years in cutting edge software research, combining open source and proprietary software.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

de Joode, R.v.W., Lin, Y. & David, S. Rethinking free, libre and open source software. Know Techn Pol 18, 5–16 (2006).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Source Code
  • Open Source
  • Open Source Software
  • Innovation Model
  • Free Software