A very good study from Karim R. Lakhani and Robert G. Wolf ( Why hackers do what they do: Understanding Motivation and Effort in Free/Open Source Software projects ) has been around for a couple of years but didn't seem to get the exposure it deserves. Here is a brief summary.
If you're a FOSS contributor, you're about 30 y.o. almost exclusively male (sic) from North America or Western Europe, with 12 years of programming experience and spending about 10h/week on 2 or 3 FLOSS projects. You feel strongly that the hacker community is the primary source of your identity.
- You're either self-taught (40%) of have been formally IT trained (51%).
- There are good chances (40%) that you're paid while contributing.
- Your primary motivation lies in your ability to express your creativity
- You belong to one of the following 4 clusters (names are MTG's not that of the study), identified along your secondary motivations.
[ 25% ] The Professional: (86% are paid) You need FLOSS for work-related issuesContrary to the mainstream sociological belief, extrinsic rewards (money) does not decrease your intrinsic motivation (here your feeling of creativity).
[ 27% ] The Hobbyist: You need FLOSS for non-work related issues
[ 29% ] The Intellectual: You like to improve your skills and need/like intellectual stimulations
[ 19% ] The Altruist: You like to give to the community and believe code should be free/open
Finally something that should be pondered by all recruiting managers and which I don't think is specific to FOSS:
- Fulfilling your sense of creativity has the most impact on the numbers of hours you're spending
- Half as efficient is either being paid or liking the project team
- If you have a formal IT training, you will probably not spend as much time on the project
- Increase the micro-management and thus decrease the sense of creativity
- Threaten to decrease the pay and/or the bonus if objectives are not met
- Disturb the dynamic of the team by demanding more feedback and/or reshuffling tasks and/or responsibilities
- Hire more big "resumes" and thus hoping for a "providential" guy to solve the problems
Is the inexperience of IT managers the main obstacle to the quality engineering of proprietary software?
Also of interest:
humor & fun equitable open source open source business models
Notes on the study
This web survey got 684 respondents from 287 projects (from alpha to mature, no individual projects selected). Those respondents represented about a 1/3 of all the developers pinged. All projects came from SourceForge.Net and the polling occurred in 2001 and 2002.
Here is another survey about FLOSS contributors: European survey of FLOSS developers