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Open Source Software Adoption: Anatomy of Success and Failure

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Current estimates suggest widespread adoption of open source software (OSS) in organizations world- wide. However, the problematic nature of OSS adoption is readily evidenced in the fairly frequent reports of problems, unforeseen hold-ups, and outright abandonment of OSS implementation over time. This seminar reports the case of an Irish public sector organization, who embarked on the adoption of a range of OSS applications over several years, some of which have been successfully deployed and remain in live use within the organisation, whereas others, despite achieving high levels of assimilation over a number of years, have not been ultimately retained in live use in the organization. Using a longitudinal case study, we discuss in depth the deployment process for two OSS applications ¬ the desktop application suite whose deployment was unsuccessful ultimately, and the email application which was successfully deployed. To our knowledge, this is the first such in-depth study into successful and unsuccessful OSS implementation. Given that our study was a longitudinal one in a single organization, we can control a number of potentially important influencing elements which would not be possible if multiple organizations were involved. In particular, the complex interaction of issues to do with voluntariness of adoption, image, trialability and absorptive capacity were critical influences in the process.

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