Author granted license

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

7-2005

Language

en-US

Abstract

Open source software, developed by volunteers, appears counter to the conventional wisdom that private provision of public goods is socially more efficient. But complexity makes a difference. Under standard models, development contracts for specialized software may be difficult to write and ownership rights do not necessarily elicit socially optimal effort. I consider three mechanisms that improve the likelihood that firms can obtain the software they need: pre-packaged software, Application Program Interfaces (APIs) and Free/Open Source software (FOSS). I show that with complex software, some firms will choose to participate in FOSS over both "make or buy" and this increases social welfare. In general, FOSS complements proprietary provision, rather than replacing it. Pre-packaged software can coexist in the marketplace with FOSS: pre-packaged software addresses common uses with limited feature sets, while firms with specialized, more complex needs use FOSS.

Find on SSRN

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.