Open Growth: The Impact of Open Source Software on Employment in the USA

Open Growth: The Impact of Open Source Software on Employment in the USA

Roya Ghafele (Oxfirst, UK) and Benjamin Gibert (Oxfirst, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7230-7.ch029
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Open Source Software (OSS) is well established in sectors as diverse as aviation, health, telecommunications, finance, publishing, education, and government. As nations increasingly rely on knowledge assets to grow, the adoption of OSS will have profound economic consequences. This paper identifies the mechanisms inherent to OSS production that help fuel innovation in knowledge-based economies. As a collaborative and open production model, OSS is conceptualized as a prototype of open innovation. Drawing on US employment projections for 2008-2018, the authors' analysis predicts OSS will have a positive impact on employment growth in well-paid salary jobs across multiple sectors of the US economy. OSS-related software development jobs are widely diffuse throughout the economy, help build a skilled labour force and offer wages significantly above the national average. OSS is thus believed to be a strong contributor to growth in high-value employment in the US. The authors also posit that, as industries are exposed to the benefits of OSS as a result of the broad diffusion of OSS-related jobs, open innovation processes outside software development may be adopted through a process of learning and imitation.
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A Brief Introduction To Open Source Software

The Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) movement is founded on the idea that the open development of software is more effective than its proprietary alternative. Put simply, it is about access to source code and freedom to modify and distribute it (Ajila & Wu, 2007). The distinctions between Free, Libre and Open Source Software models are based on the type of licenses applied to the source code as well as the cost and availability of the final product. Since we are primarily interested in FLOSS as an open production process and its impact on employment, the label Open Source Software (OSS) is applied to all of these activities.

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