Hausberg and Spaeth (2018)
|Hausberg and Spaeth (2018)|
|Title:||Why makers make what they make: motivations to contribute to open source hardware development|
|Author(s):||J. Piet Hausberg, Sebastian Spaeth|
|Citation:||Hausberg, J.P and Spaeth, S (2018) Why makers make what they make: motivations to contribute to open source hardware development. R&D Management.|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Online surveys were issued to a “range of different communities” (including FabLabs, RepRapmaker and hackerspaces, online forums etc.) yielding 116 complete and usable responses. The surveys were designed to assess obligation-based and enjoyment-based intrinsic motivations in contributing to open source hardware development.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
“Open source software (OSS) and hardware (OSH) are two expressions of one broader concept and its related movement. One of the most fundamental questions relating to these phenomena is why developers contribute their private resources to these public goods. While this question has been discussed, theorized, and empirically investigated in the context of OSS, there has been no research so far in the context of OSH. Can we really assume the motivations behind the development of the OSH to be the same as those behind OSS? Based on the self-determination theory (SDT), we provide original insights into the motivations behind contributions to OSH development. We collected data from the most common and active 3D printing communities, which are the main loci of OSH development. We thus have a unique cross-sectional data set with participants from over 30 different countries using all kinds of different OSH platforms. Our analysis reveals several important findings: firstly, the motivations are in some aspects very similar to those in open source software notwithstanding different possibilities, hurdles, and incentives regarding the OSS and OSH. Above all, enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation is a major factor affecting contribution levels. Secondly, among internalized extrinsic motivations, expected private benefits through improving own skills stands out. Thirdly, different factors of internalized extrinsic motivations can have different moderating effects on the effect of enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation. Given the imminent changes in business models throughout manufacturing industries in order to adapt to the challenge that OSH will increasingly pose, our findings have important implications not only for OSH communities and 3D development platforms, but also for businesses that want and probably soon have to engage in open innovation.”
Main Results of the Study
Obligation-based intrinsic motivation has no significant effect on contribution to open source hardware; this is in contrast to previous studies which confirmed the opposite, finding that a degree of expected reciprocity in communities was integral to contributors’ identity. The authors attribute this to the degree of physical proximity (face-to-face) required in hardware development, which may offset any social costs incurred with non-reciprocity. Similarly, neither career or pay were associated with likelihood of contribution (or rather, may be very limited, short-term motivators in respect of e.g. a specific project or feature).
Conversely, enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation is associated with contributions, suggesting intellectual curiosity and fun are more prominent motivational factors in the open source community. In this context, learning has a positive effect on enjoyment-based motivations. The study also finds an interaction effect of enjoyment-based intrinsic motivation and reputational benefits; for example, lack of enjoyment may be offset by reputational gains (i.e. compensating).
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Whilst the study does not make any explicit policy recommendations, the authors find that open source community managers may implement some of the findings in such a way as to incentivise open source hardware creators in future (particularly amidst the introduction of innovative and low-cost business models in e.g. 3D printing). This may be achieved by, for example, providing reputitional benefits or appropriate learning tasks (both of which contribute or compensate for overall enjoyment and motivation).