Software, shareware and freeware: Multiplex commitment to an electronic social exchange system

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John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


We observe the behavior of 37 authors of shared (i.e., non-commercial) software for the Apple Newton in terms of multiplex commitment (committed to multiple related targets) and the helping behaviors directed at these multiple related targets. The behavior of these shared software authors show a pattern of commitment to related targets consistent with our expectations of multiplex commitment and relationships to two helping behaviors (the number of shared software programs produced, and the degree of sacrifice expected with that shared software). The related targets of commitment were the users of the software, other shared software authors, and the newsgroup that served as the electronic social exchange system, but not the FTP site that enabled the exchange or the Listserv that served as an additional electronic social exchange system.