The open source software alternative : Factors and their impact on the decision-making process at Swedish municipalities
Abstract: Arguably, the Schumpeterian ideology of “creative destruction” saying that eventually even the most secure monopoly will be destroyed by a new technology, a new idea, or a shift in tastes could be applied to open source software. Currently, the proprietary software holds a strong position in the software market. Nevertheless, one could see a surge in articles and acceptance among organisations concerning open source software. Proprietary software companies like Microsoft are still gaining ground within the Swedish municipalities. Although one get the impression that municipalities generally are positive toward open source software, the decision-making process often results in choosing a proprietary software alternative. However, one could question which are the underlying factors and to what extent are these factors affecting the decision-making process of municipalities integrating or migrating into open source software? In order to study this phenomenon, we chose a quantitative approach using a questionnaire as the tool for data gathering. The sample consisted of 100 randomly selected municipalities. A pre study was made through an interview in order to strengthen the accuracy of the questionnaire which later on was sent out to the IT manager at each municipality in the sample. The organisational-, environmental-, user- and system level are four main factors affecting the decision-making process concerning open source software. Among these, the organisational factor was the only one which had a significant negative impact on the decision-making process concerning open source software. The importance of being able to integrate different software increases the need for compatibility which, according to the IT managers, is facilitated using a standardized software environment offered by for example Microsoft.
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