Management Science

Received August 30, 2004. This paper was with the authors 9 months for 5 revisions. Published online in Articles in Advance Nov 9, 2007.

This line cannot capture the amount of work, frustration, and effort that has gone into our article “Code reuse in open source software” (article only available to INFORMS subscribers, sorry, available version will be published here as soon as we may do it) which is being published in Management Science.

Abstract: Code reuse is a form of knowledge reuse in software development, which is fundamental to innovation in many fields. To date, there has been no systematic investigation of code reuse in open source software projects. This study uses quantitative and qualitative data gathered from a sample of six open source software projects, to evaluate two sets of propositions derived from the literature on software reuse in firms and open source software development. We find that code reuse is extensive across the sample and that open source software developers, much like developers in firms, apply tools that lower their search costs for knowledge and code, assess the quality of software components, and they have incentives to reuse code. Open source software developers reuse code because they want to integrate functionality quickly, because they want to write preferred code, because they operate under limited resources in terms of time and skills, and because they can mitigate development costs through code reuse. Implications for research and management practice are discussed.