Our goal in this study is to provide insight into the motivational profiles of open source contributors. Adopting a functionalist view of motivation, we identify five functional dimensions from the literature on volunteerism that are relevant to the open source context and three functional dimensions from the literature on open source development. To assess the salience and relative strength of each functional explanation for open source participation, we conducted secure Web-based surveys of developers who participated in three large Apache open source projects. Applying exploratory factor analytic techniques to analyze the survey data collected from 122 Apache participants, we found 5 distinct factors underlying the motivation to participate in open source projects. We then used conjoint analysis to assess the relative importance of these underlying motivations. Results from the conjoint analysis indicate that while several dimensions are significant in explaining the motivation to participate in open source projects, the dominant motivations include increasing the contributor’s use value of the software (27 percent) followed by the recreational value of the task (19 percent) and the potential career impacts from participation (12 percent). This study contributes to the growing literature on open source software development by providing insight into the underlying motivational profiles of open source participation and by identifying the relative importance of different motivations within those profiles.
Hann, Il-Horn; Roberts, Jeff; and Slaughter, Sandra, "Why Developers Participate in Open Source Software Projects: An Empirical Investigation" (2004). ICIS 2004 Proceedings. 66.