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On the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation of free/libre/open source (FLOSS) developers

Based on existing literature Krishnamurthy argues in favor of an integrative theory on open source motivation rather then the either-or of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation found in other literature. He identifies 4 factors: financial incentives, nature of the task, group size and group structure. Financial incentives can be classified by 4 variables:

  • Distribution pattern
  • Type of provider
  • Contingent or fixed
  • Conditionality

He is also concerned on the effects of financial incentives on the larger ecosystem

“While acknowledging the work of previous authors, it is my argument that
in order to gain a fuller understanding of developer motivation what is needed
is a more direct investigation of the impact of financial incentives on the FLOSS
ecosystem. Following previous work on FLOSS as a virtual organization
(Marcus, Manville and Agres 2000, Ljungberg 2000), the ecosystem is defined
as a loose collection of individuals and firms working on various projects
that lead to the public release of software and source code. The ecosystem is,
thus, at a higher level of abstraction in comparison to a community since (a) it
includes individuals and firms and (b) it is not specific to one project.”

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