Code Reuse in Open Source Software
Code reuse is a form of knowledge reuse in software development that is fundamental to innovation in many fields. However, to date there has been no systematic investigation of code reuse in open source software projects. This study uses quantitative and qualitative data gathered from a sample of six open source software projects to explore two sets of research questions derived from the literature on software reuse in firms and open source software development. We find that code reuse is extensive across the sample and that open source software developers, much like developers in firms, apply tools that lower their search costs for knowledge and code, assess the quality of software components, and have incentives to reuse code. Open source software developers reuse code because they want to integrate functionality quickly, because they want to write preferred code, because they operate under limited resources in terms of time and skills, and because they can mitigate development costs through code reuse.