Open Source Ecosystems: Diverse Communities Interacting

Volume 299 of the series IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology pp 47-56

Beyond the Business Model: Incentives for Organizations to Publish Software Source Code

  • Juho LindmanAffiliated withInformation Systems Science, Helsinki School of Economics
  • , Juha-Pekka JuutilainenAffiliated withAccenture
  • , Matti RossiAffiliated withInformation Systems Science, Helsinki School of Economics


The software stack opened under Open Source Software (OSS) licenses is growing rapidly. Commercial actors have released considerable amounts of previously proprietary source code. These actions beg the question why companies choose a strategy based on giving away software assets? Research on outbound OSS approach has tried to answer this question with the concept of the “OSS business model”. When studying the reasons for code release, we have observed that the business model concept is too generic to capture the many incentives organizations have. Conversely, in this paper we investigate empirically what the companies’ incentives are by means of an exploratory case study of three organizations in different stages of their code release. Our results indicate that the companies aim to promote standardization, obtain development resources, gain cost savings, improve the quality of software, increase the trustworthiness of software, or steer OSS communities. We conclude that future research on outbound OSS could benefit from focusing on the heterogeneous incentives for code release rather than on revenue models.