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

  • Juho Lindman
  • Juha-Pekka Juutilainen
  • Matti Rossi
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 299)


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.


  1. 1.
    ITEA-COSI-project, (accessed 14.11.2008)
  2. 2.
    AlMarzoug, M., Zheng, L., Rong, G., Grover, V.: Open Source: Concepts, Benefits, and Challenges. Communications of the Association for Information Systems 16(37), 756–784 (2005)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bonaccorsi, A., Rossi, C.: Comparing Motivations of Individual Programmers and Firms to Take Part in the Open Source Movement: From Community to Business. Knowledge, technology and policy 18(4), 40–64 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dahlander, L., Magnusson, M.: Relationships between open source software companies and communities: Observations from Nordic firms. Research Policy 34(4), 481–493 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fink, M.: Business and Economics of Linux and Open Source. Prentice Hall, New Jersey (2002)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fitzgerald, N.: The Transformation of Open Source Software. MIS Quarterly 30(3), 587–598 (2006)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Goth, G.: Open Source Business Models: Ready for Prime Time. IEEE Software, 98–100 (November/December 2005)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gray, D.E.: Doing Research in The Real World. Sage Publications, California (2004)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Hecker, F.: Setting Up Shop: The Business of Open-Source Software. IEEE Software 16(1), 45–51 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hertel, G., Niedner, S., Herrmann, S.: Motivation of software developers in Open Source projects: an Internet-based survey of contributors to the Linux kernel. Research Policy 32(7), 1159–1177 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Krishnamurthy, S.: A managerial overview of open source software. Business Horizons 46(5), 47–56 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    de Laat, P.B.: Copyright or copyleft? An analysis of property regimes for software development. Research Policy 34, 1511–1532 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lerner, J., Tirole, J.: The Open Source movement: key research questions. European Economic Review 45(4-6), 819–826 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lerner, J., Tirole, J.: Some Simple Economics of Open Source. Journal of Industial Economics 50(2), 197–234 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Markus, M.L., Manville, B., Agres, C.E.: What Makes a Virtual Organisation Work –Lessons From the Open Source World? Sloan Management Review 42(1), 13–26 (2000)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    O’Mahony, S.C.: Dissertation: The emergence of a new commercial actor: community managed software project (2002), (accessed 14.11.2008)
  17. 17.
    Osterwalder, A., Pigneur, Y., Tucci, C.: Clarifying business models: Origins, present, and future of the concept. Communications of the Association for Information Systems 16, 1–25 (2005)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Perens, B.: The emerging economic paradigm of Open Source. First Monday 10 (special issue 2: Open source) (2005)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Raymond, E.S.: The Cathedral and the Bazaar (2000), 14.11.2008)
  20. 20.
    Rajala, R., Nissilä, J., Westerlund, M.: Revenue Models in the Open Source Software Business. In: St. Amant, K., Still, B. (eds.) Handbook of research on open source software – Technological, Economic, and Social Perspectives, New York, Hershey, pp. 541–554 (2007)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    West, J., O’Mahony, S.: Contrasting Community Building in Sponsored and Community Founded Open Source Projects. In: Proceedings of the 38th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, Hawaii, p. 196c (2005)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Wichmann, T.: Firms’ Open Source Activities: Motivations and Policy Implications. Free/Libre Open Source Software: Survey and Study, FLOSS Final Report, Berlecon Research GmbH (2002), (accessed 14.11.2008)
  23. 23.
    Woods, D., Guliani, G.: Open Source for the Enterprise: Managing risks, reaping rewards. O’Reilly Media, Sebastopol (2005)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Yin, R.K.: Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 2nd edn. Sage Publications, California (1994)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juho Lindman
    • 1
  • Juha-Pekka Juutilainen
    • 2
  • Matti Rossi
    • 1
  1. 1.Information Systems ScienceHelsinki School of EconomicsHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.AccentureHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations