In the early twenty-first century, economists were baffled by the volunteer nature of open-source software (OSS) and why OSS developers would give their intellectual property away. This chapter focuses on OSS developers, describes who they are and where they live, and examines the reasons for their involvement in OSS projects. It also considers the factors that motivate developers and likely influence the success or abandonment of OSS projects. Moreover, the chapter uses the Institutional Analysis and Development framework to evaluate an individual developer’s decision making, to connect to previous theory and field research on commons, to conceptually organize much of the large and growing theoretical and field studies on OSS, and to elucidate the governance and institutional design of OSS projects. Finally, it looks at the motivations of software developers to participate in OSS projects, from enjoyment and learning to skill building, signaling and/or ego gratification, hacker ethic, and reciprocity, as well as the costs incurred in getting involved, such as emotional distress and opportunity cost of time.
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