Free and Open Source Software (F/OSS)

What is open source? Open source software refers to software where the code is open for anyone to view, modify and distribute.
The definition also typically implies, though does not require, a collaborative development process through a community of developers. If you like long, complicated and meaningless
definitions, the definition provided by the Open Source Initiative is the formal one, so take a look.

What are the open questions on open source?

You can read some works at the MIT Free/ Open Source Research Community site, where people working on open source sometimes post their papers.

In general, the big puzzle used to be the fact that people contribute code for no apparent benefit to themselves. This puzzled economists. That is, until Lerner and Tirole noted that contibutors have a strong self-interest in promoting themselves (for example, this website). So economists felt a lot better but still kept doing research into motives. Today the question of motives, while heavily researched, is of less interest. Many contributors for most code that counts are far from the anarchists and volunteers that were previously very vocal in the development community. Many large companies actively contribute code and programming talent. So the puzzle on motives has diminished. The main puzzle I am interested in is from the company's perspective.

Open source community advocates stress that open source code can and should be sold for profit. They like to make the point that open source is free like in free speech, not like free beer. Contrary to this clever joke, open source is in fact free as in free beer. You can't sell it no matter what these advocates are saying. You can package it nicely and sell the package, service, maintenance, consulting, hardware that goes with it, other software that goes with it, a bundle of services, bug fixes, or any number of things. But not really the code-- not with it being on the Internet available for download. So when you open the source to a code and post it on the Internet, you give up the ability to charge for it. This means that you have to have a model for how to make back that money and more. And models is what I do. So below you can find some sample works.


Haruvy, E. S. Sethi and J. Zhou, Open Source Development with a Commercial Complementary Product or Service, Production and Operations Management, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 29-43, January-February 2008

Haruvy, E., A. Prasad, S. Sethi and R. Zhang, "Competition with Open Source as a Public Good",  Journal of Industrial and Management Optimization, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 199-211, February 2008

Haruvy, E., A. Prasad, and S. Sethi, "Harvesting Altruism in Open-Source Software Development",  Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, Vol. 118, No. 2, August 2003

Chakravarty, S., E. Haruvy and F. Wu (2007), “The Link Between Incentives and Product Performance in Open Source Development: An Empirical Investigation,” Global Business and Economics Review 9, 151-169.

Haruvy, E., A. Prasad, S. Sethi, and R. Zhang (2005), "Optimal Firm Contributions to Open Source Software: Effects of Competition, Compatibility and User Contributions,"  Optimal Control and Dynamic Games: Applications in Finance, Management Science, and Economics, Editors: Christophe Deissenberg and Richard Hartl, Springer, New York, 197-214.

Haruvy, E., V. Mahajan, and A. Prasad, (2004), “Software Piracy: Market penetration in the Presence of Network Externalities,” Journal of Business 77(2), 81-107.

  Haruvy, E. and A. Prasad (2001), “Optimal freeware quality in the presence of network externalities: An Evolutionary Game Theoretical Approach,” Journal of Evolutionary Economics 11 (2), 231-48. 

Haruvy, E. and A. Prasad (1998), “Optimal Product Strategies in the Presence of Network Externalities,” Information Economics and Policy 10, 489-499.