Is there a wage premium for volunteer OSS engagement? – signalling, learning and noise

TitleIs there a wage premium for volunteer OSS engagement? – signalling, learning and noise
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsBitzer, Jürgen, Geishecker Ingo, and Schröder Philipp J. H.
Secondary TitleApplied Economics
Pagination1 - 16
Date Published09/2016
PublisherRoutledge
ISSN Number1466-4283
Keywordsopen source software, peer production, signalling, voluntary work, wage formation
Abstract

Volunteer-based open-source production has become a significant new model for the organization of software development. Economics often pictures this phenomenon as a case of signaling: Individuals engage in the volunteer programming of open-source software (OSS) as a labor-market signal resulting in a wage premium. Yet, this explanation could so far not be empirically tested. The present paper fills this gap by estimating an upper-bound composite wage premium of voluntary OSS contributions and by separating the potential signaling effect of OSS engagement from other effects. Although some 70% of OSS contributors believe that OSS involvement benefits their careers, we find no actual labor market premium for OSS engagement. The presence of other motives such as fun of play or altruism render OSS contributions too noisy to function as a signal.

DOI10.1080/00036846.2016.1218427
Short TitleApplied Economics