Why companies don’t always freeride on open source projects

I presented on open source foundations earlier this week to economist friends at TU Munich. I naturally got the question about freeriding: Why does anyone contribute to open source projects, if they could do something else with their time? The cinch: This time we are talking about companies, not invididual people, so the arguments about altruism and signaling don’t apply. So, why do companies contribute and don’t just freeride? I don’t think this question has been answered well yet in economics, and I’m not sure established theory has a ready answer.

To make it short: I believe the most direct reason why companies contribute to open source projects is to lower their cost of consumption of that very project. Specifically, contributing to a project builds competence in that project, and employing committers builds additional foresight and influence. General compentence makes the company use the software more effectively, avoiding costly bugs and rework. Foresight and influence helps the company avoid misalignment of their products with the evolving open source software they depend on. Such misalignment can also lead to costly rework and missed market opportunities.

I’m not aware of any RoI model that helps an engineering manager determine how much to contribute to achieve how much lower consumption costs and risks. Because of the step function from contributor to committer status for the involved employees, the investment return is not a linear function, that much we can say. The rest remains imperfect science for now.

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Upcoming Industry Talk on Continuous Delivery by Thomas Fricke of Endocode

We will host an industry talk on “Continuous Delivery” in AMOS, our agile methods course. The talk is free and open to the public.

  • by: Thomas Fricke, Endocode
  • about: Continuous Delivery
  • on: January 18th, 2018, 10:15 Uhr
  • at: TU Berlin, Marchstraße 23, 10587 Berlin, room MAR 4.065
  • as part of: AMOS speaker series

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Upcoming Industry Talk on Richtung Innovation – Scrum und Design Thinking (in German) by Radouane el Marjani of 365farmnet

We will host an industry talk on “Richtung Innovation – Scrum und Design Thinking” in AMOS, our agile methods course. The talk is free and open to the public.

  • by: Radouane el Marjani, 365farmnet
  • about: Richtung Innovation – Scrum und Design Thinking
  • on: January 25th, 2018, 10:15 Uhr
  • at: TU Berlin, Marchstraße 23, 10587 Berlin, room MAR 4.065
  • as part of: AMOS speaker series

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Upcoming Industry Talk on Advanced Scrum Master – From Applying Scrum to Understanding Agility by Mario Berger and Martin Wurm of Mister Spex

We will host an industry talk on “Advanced Scrum Master – From applying Scrum to understanding agility” in AMOS, our agile methods course. The talk is free and open to the public.

  • by: Mario Berger and Martin Wurm, Mister Spex
  • about: Advanced Scrum Master – From applying Scrum to understanding agility
  • on: December 14th, 2017, 10:15 Uhr
  • at: TU Berlin, Marchstraße 23, 10587 Berlin, room MAR 4.065
  • as part of: AMOS speaker series

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Upcoming Industry Talk on Tipps and Tricks for Product Owners by Paul Möller of SAP SE

We will host an industry talk on “Tipps and Tricks for Product Owners” in AMOS, our agile methods course. The talk is free and open to the public.

  • by: Paul Möller, SAP SE
  • about: Tipps and Tricks for Product Owners
  • on: December 7th, 2017, 10:15 Uhr
  • at: TU Berlin, Marchstraße 23, 10587 Berlin, room MAR 4.065
  • as part of: AMOS speaker series

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Call for Papers: 1st Workshop on Innovative Software Engineering Education (ISEE 2018)

http://www1.in.tum.de/isee2018

In conjunction with the Software Engineering Conference 2018 in Ulm, March 6, 2018

Motivation

The number of students continuously increases and presents ever greater challenges for instructors in software engineering. In courses with a huge number of students, it is particularly difficult to motivate students to actively participate. At the same time, practice-oriented and project-related training is becoming increasingly important, but project courses in cooperation with industry are often associated with high costs.

Digital teaching, online courses and new teaching concepts complement the curriculum. They offer a wide range of possibilities for modern and attractive teaching, but pose methodical, technical and organizational challenges for instructors.

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Call for Papers: 3rd Workshop on Continuous Software Engineering (CSE 2018)

http://cse2018.swc-rwth.de/

In conjunction with Software Engineering 2018

Ulm, March 6, 2018

Scope of the workshop

In order to develop and deliver high-quality products to their customers, software companies have to adopt state-of-the-art software development processes. To face this challenge, companies are applying innovative methods, approaches and techniques like agile methods, DevOps, Continuous Delivery, test automation, infrastructure as code or container-based virtualization.

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