IT Vendor Motivations by Open Source Software Clusters

Intellectual Property and Open Source

Article Snapshot


Marco Iansiti and Gregory L. Richards


Harvard Business School Working Paper Series No. 00-123, 2006


This paper looks at the interests of contributors to open source software contributors.

Policy Relevance

Open source software participation seems motivated by factors that drive economic actors generally, including commercial profit.

Main Points

  • Open source software lets users change the code to suit their own needs; open source  code under the General Public License (GPL) must be distributed free.

  • Contributors to open source projects include corporations who sell information technology, such as IBM, as well as voluntary contributors who work without pay.

  • Corporate information technology vendors invest over $10 million per project in undertakings relating to their core business that increase core business revenues.

  • Information technology vendors tend to ignore less-financed projects driven by the voluntary efforts of developers such as their employees.

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