Carnegie Mellon University

erina ytsma

May 02, 2019

Tepper Professor Awarded Grant Through Sloan Foundation

The Sloan Foundation has awarded Erina Ytsma, Assistant Professor of Accounting, along with Jana Gallus, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Behavioral Decision Making at the University of California in Los Angeles, a grant totaling $49,500 for a research project that studies the effects of non-financial incentives on innovative productivity on open source platforms.

Chosen as one of 13 projects to be funded from over 240 applications, the research grants given by the Ford Foundation and the Sloan Foundation focus on the sustainability, maintainability, and security of open-source digital infrastructure.

The research project titled "The Power of Public: Recognition and Reputation as Drivers of Open Source Success" seeks to understand how recognition and reputation affect productivity through a series of randomized field experiments on a large, international open source platform.

Much of the work on these platforms is self-directed and not directly rewarded with pay or bonuses. The question is, therefore, how to stimulate and steer contributions to open source projects, if monetary incentives are absent or infeasible. This is where non-financial incentives, such as recognition and reputation, may come into play.

The researchers analyze the extent to which recognition and reputational concerns succeed in driving more or better contributions to open source projects. They also provide suggestions on how platforms can be designed to harness these incentives to improve the sustainability of open-source projects.

“The innovation and open-source marketplaces are becoming increasingly important in our economy, but behavior within these markets are not yet well understood,” said Alan Scheller-Wolf, Richard M. Cyert Professor of Operations Management and Senior Associate Dean of Faculty and Research. “Erina’s work carries enormous potential in advancing the understanding and use of these systems. The support from the Ford and Sloan foundations demonstrates the great significance of this research.”

“An award of this magnitude strengthens and drives our research. I am both grateful and excited for the future of our studies into motivation and status knowing we have this level of support,” Ytsma said.