Why Makers Make What They Make: Motivations to Contribute to Open Source Hardware Development
R&D Management (RADMA), ISSN: 1467-9310
21 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2018
Date Written: December 3, 2018
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.
Keywords: Open Source, Open Source Hardware, Open Innovation, Motivation
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