Promoting the Penguin: Who is Advocating Open Source Software in Commercial Settings?

TitlePromoting the Penguin: Who is Advocating Open Source Software in Commercial Settings?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsAlexy, O, Henkel, J
Date PublishedAugust

Most firms that use or develop software today face the questions of whether and how to engage in open source software. Yet, little is known about the process of OSS adoption and diffusion within corporations. Guided by the theoretical frameworks of Rogers (innovation diffusion) and Davis (Technology Acceptance Model), we develop a model of how job function influences individuals??? proclivity to support their employers??? adoption of OSS and OSS practices. We argue that job function determines which tasks in the software development process are part of an individual???s daily routine, and that different tasks are differentially affected by OSS. Our study is based on interviews with 25 individuals and a large-scale survey distributed to 249 participants in the telecommunications department of a multinational company. The results, although consistent with theoretical considerations, are nevertheless surprising. Distinguishing between developers, software testers, software architects, project managers, and managers, we find greater involvement in OSS activities to be favored most strongly by software testers, followed by software architects and managers. Excepting project managers, developers, despite having the most experience with OSS, are the least favorably disposed to greater corporate engagement in OSS. A corporation interested in adopting OSS and open innovation processes should thus take into account the job function-related incentives of each individual as well as various organizational factors. More generally, we propose that models developed to predict IT adoption behavior be extended to account for the ways in which individual adopters interact with the innovation at hand, which we maintain will be determined largely by their job functions.

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