[Discuss] Economic value of OSH work

Joshua Pearce professor.pearce at gmail.com
Tue Sep 2 13:13:53 UTC 2014

Hi All,

I know that many of you has been thinking about how to determine the value
of OSH work. Are you aware of any methods to calculate absolute value in
real economic terms?

For example if you spend an hour of your time making an OpenSCAD file for a
parametric test tube rack and put it in the public domain - and then for
the rest of time anyone can download the file, customize the rack for their
needs and print it for the cost of materials and a tiny amount of
electricity. How much is that gift worth?

Clearly it is more than your opportunity cost or wage for one hour...but
how much more is the value to humanity?

Is it:
(cost to purchase - cost to print) x (number of people downloading it)?


(hourly wage of person needing a test tube rack) x (number of people using


total value of the test tube market - (cost to print)x (number of racks in
the market) ....summed for N years?


As the cost of test tube racks has now decreased it is the total value of
the current market + a bonus for expanding future use because of lower
costs + some kind of educational bonus because more schools can afford them
+ some fraction of future discoveries made possible because now part of the
expense of doing science was decreased.....


Is there a better way to do this - and get to quantification?


Joshua M. Pearce, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
The Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology Lab
Department of Materials Science & Engineering
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Michigan Technological University
601 M&M Building
1400 Townsend Drive
Houghton, MI 49931-1295

Open Source Lab <http://store.elsevier.com/coArticle.jsp?pageid=18200010>
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