How Open Source Software Works: “Free” User-to-User Assistance

  • Karim R. Lakhani
  • Eric von Hippel


Some very successful “open source” software products have been and are being developed, distributed, and supported in the field on a voluntary basis by and for users themselves — no supplier required2. The motives that induce users to contribute to an open source project “for free” and the mechanisms by which the various tasks can be effectively carried out are currently a subject of study for both practitioners and academics. To this point, explorations of the mechanics of and the incentives to participate in open source software projects have focused on the core tasks of developing and debugging and improving the open source software itself. Major motives used to explain why users would voluntarily work on these basic tasks include:
  1. 1.

    a user’s direct need for the software and software improvements worked upon,

  2. 2.

    enjoyment of the work itself and

  3. 3.

    the enhanced reputation that may flow from making high-quality contributions to an open source project.



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Copyright information

© Betriebswirtschaftlicher Verlag Dr. Th. Gabler/GWV Fachverlage GmbH, Wiesbaden 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karim R. Lakhani
  • Eric von Hippel

There are no affiliations available

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