Comingled Code

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* Book: The Comingled Code. Open Source and Economic Development. Josh Lerner and Mark Schankerman, 2010



"Discussions of the economic impact of open source software often generate more heat than light. Advocates passionately assert the benefits of open source while critics decry its effects. Missing from the debate is rigorous economic analysis and systematic economic evidence of the impact of open source on consumers, firms, and economic development in general. This book fills that gap. In The Comingled Code, Josh Lerner and Mark Schankerman, drawing on a new, large-scale database, show that open source and proprietary software interact in sometimes unexpected ways, and discuss the policy implications of these findings.

The new data (from a range of countries in varying stages of development) documents the mixing of open source and proprietary software: firms sell proprietary software while contributing to open source, and users extensively mix and match the two. Lerner and Schankerman examine the ways in which software differs from other technologies in promoting economic development, what motivates individuals and firms to contribute to open source projects, how developers and users view the trade-offs between the two kinds of software, and how government policies can ensure that open source competes effectively with proprietary software and contributes to economic development."

About the Authors

Josh Lerner is Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking at Harvard Business School, with a joint appointment in the Finance and Entrepreneurial Units. He is the author of The Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed and What to Do About It.

Mark Schankerman is Professor of Economics and Research Associate at the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Research Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London.


"Given the authors, endorsements, etc. I would say this book likely attempts to undercut any support for radical claims about the innovativeness of a "new economics"

Ex. see the following excerpts:

"It appears likely that much of the public sector’s enthusiasm for open source is rooted as much in political than in economic considerations. "

"the success of open source and proprietary software is likely to be linked to the overall development of the economy"

"the lack of interest of the students at Nanyang Technological University reflect their perception that mastering proprietary software will lead to attractive career opportunities"

"This case study examines Electric Genetics, a bioinformatics company that has relied on open source software. The open source approach, however, becomes a liability when key employees defect with critical code, and succeed in obtaining government support for their new enterprise. While the open source model gives the firm access to a large pool of talent and expertise to improve its products, it leaves it vulnerable to rivals because of its limited ability to benefit financially from its effort at developing code."

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