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The Effect of Competition by Commercial Alternatives on Contributions to Open Source Platforms

29 May 2019 - 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Abstract: Open source platforms such as Linux or Wikipedia rely on voluntary contributions by community members. Such platforms often face competition by commercial alternatives such as Encyclopedia Britannica and Microsoft Windows. We do, however, not know how such competition affects the tendency to start and continue contributing to open source platforms. To examine the effect of competition by commercial alternatives on contributions to open source platforms, we examine how contributions to OpenStreetMap, a widely-used open source mapping platform, changed following the competitive entry of Google Maps. We exploit the phased entry of Google Maps in different countries over time to isolate the effect of competition. We find in our context that competition affects the tendency to start contributing negatively, but the tendency to continue contributing positively. An examination of the underlying mechanisms suggests that ideology to be an important factor in moderating the effect of competition on contributions and in explaining the differential effect of competition on the tendency to start and to continue contributing. We discuss implications for research on the motivation to contribute and the viability of communities producing open source knowledge.


29 May 2019
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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TUM School of Management
Arcisstraße 21
München, 80333 Germany


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TUM School of Management
Arcisstraße 21
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