A theory-grounded framework of Open Source Software adoption in SMEs
The increasing popularity and use of Open Source Software (OSS) has led to significant interest from research communities and enterprise practitioners, notably in the small business sector where this type of software offers particular benefits given the financial and human capital constraints faced. However, there has been little focus on developing valid frameworks that enable critical evaluation and common understanding of factors influencing OSS adoption. This paper seeks to address this shortcoming by presenting a theory-grounded framework for exploring these factors and explaining their influence on OSS adoption, with the context of study being small- to medium-sized Information Technology (IT) businesses in the U.K. The framework has implications for this type of business – and, we will suggest, more widely – as a frame of reference for understanding, and as tool for evaluating benefits and challenges in, OSS adoption. It also offers researchers a structured way of investigating adoption issues and a base from which to develop models of OSS adoption. The study reported in this paper used the Decomposed Theory of Planned Behaviour (DTPB) as a basis for the research propositions, with the aim of: (i) developing a framework of empirical factors that influence OSS adoption; and (ii) appraising it through case study evaluation with 10 U.K. Small- to medium-sized enterprises in the IT sector. The demonstration of the capabilities of the framework suggests that it is able to provide a reliable explanation of the complex and subjective factors that influence attitudes, subjective norms and control over the use of OSS. The paper further argues that the DTPB proved useful in this research area and that it can provide a variety of situation-specific insights related to factors that influence the adoption of OSS.
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