Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2009

Industry Equilibrium with Open Source and Proprietary Firms

Abstract

We present a model of industry equilibrium to study the coexistence of Open Source (OS) and Proprietary (P) firms. Two novel aspects of the model are: (1) participation in OS arises as the optimal decision of profit-maximizing firms, and (2) OS and P firms may (or may not) coexist in equilibrium. Firms decide their type and investment in R&D, and sell packages composed of a primary good (like software) and a complementary private good. The only difference between both kinds of firms is that OS share their technological advances on the primary good, while P keep their innovations private. The main contribution of the paper is to determine conditions under which OS and P coexist in equilibrium. Interestingly, this equilibrium is characterized by an asymmetric market structure, with a few large P firms and many small OS firms.

Keywords: Investment; Technological Innovation; Knowledge Sharing; Industry Structures; Open Source Distribution; Research and Development;

Citation:

Llanes, Gaston, and Ramiro de Elejalde. "Industry Equilibrium with Open Source and Proprietary Firms." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 09-149, June 2009.