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Adoption of free/libre open source software in public organizations: Factors of impact

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Purpose ‐ In this paper the authors aim to investigate the importance of factors for the adoption of free/libre open source software (FLOSS) in the public sector. They seek to evaluate how different factors impact during the initiation and implementation phases of the adoption process. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The authors base the methodological approach on two exploratory case studies with a contrasting result logic. They build a multi-level framework grounded both on literature review, and feedback from stakeholders. They then apply the framework to two case studies to better frame the findings. They consider phases of adoption (initiation, implementation) and the levels of adoption (technological, organizational, environmental, individual). Findings ‐ In the case studies, the authors found the importance of a strong and decision-centric management board to give the impulse for the initiation phase of the process. As perceived by the stakeholders, a strong governmental support is of paramount importance to increase the adoption at the public level, although in the case studies examined the initiation stage started from the impulse of a championing management. Both case studies passed the initiation phase successfully. Continuous employees' training, organizational objectives consensus, and business process reengineering have been found important for the implementation phase. In the case study in which these factors were not in place, the implementation phase of adoption failed. Environmental factors ‐ although relevant for the initiation of the adoption process ‐ are less significant during the actual implementation of the adoption process, as the contrasting result logic from the case studies shows. Research limitations/implications ‐ The study refers to two public organizations in a specific environmental setting. No causality among factors has been inferred. Quantitative objective data have been used to determine the success of adoption, for qualitative data multiple sources have been used when possible to limit threats to validity. Practical implications ‐ The framework can be used by stakeholders in public organizations to better frame their adoption strategies and to compare results across institutions. Lessons learnt from the case studies can be useful to drive future adoptions of FLOSS. Originality/value ‐ The framework combines phases of adoption and levels making it possible to frame the analysis of the case studies. It has been operationalized with a set of metrics, and with a protocol for the case studies to increase replicability value.
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