Open source software adoption in the Australian public sector

  • Kavitha Gurusamy

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Despite a considerable body of literature on Open Source Software (OSS) adoption, there is little research into adoption or rejection of OSS by public sector organisations, and into their practical experiences of using OSS. This study explored various factors that may enable or inhibit OSS adoption by Australian Public Sector (APS) organisations from the perspectives of those involved in software procurement. This research used two major technology adoption theories to study OSS adoption within APS organisations: Diffusion of Innovation (DOI) theory and the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). This research incorporated a survey of those involved in software procurement to identify enablers/inhibitors of OSS adoption within APS organisations. A case study was also conducted by interviewing those people to provide further theoretical insights on practical experiences in using OSS. The findings were analysed through the lenses of technology adoption theories and OSS adoption literature. The findings of this study showed that OSS provides economic advantages and is a flexible alternative to proprietary software. Success of OSS adoption in Australian Public Sector organisations was contingent upon critical factors such as software quality and features that better meet organisational business needs, maintainability and availability of support, economic value, and the attitude of staff towards OSS. On the other hand there were issues in adopting OSS applications. For example, perceived lack of availability of support and training to sustain long-term usage, economical disadvantages associated with OSS applications such as higher support, maintenance and training costs, lack of product quality, inability to meet business needs, and legal issues with licensing and intellectual property were organisational concerns about OSS adoption. This study contributes to the existing body of knowledge on the adoption of OSS, and the technology adoption theories in the context of OSS by identifying various factors that enable or inhibit OSS adoption within APS organisations. This research identified that innovation attributes are applicable to OSS technology adoption including relative advantage, compatibility, and complexity. Further, organisational attributes formalization and organisational size, and environmental attributes communication channels and adopter characteristics were also found to have an impact on OSS adoption. The other factors, trialability and organisational slack (in terms of human and financial resources),were not found to have an impact on OSS adoption. The findings of this research provided valuable insight into the OSS adoption process for OSS industry, OSS iv community, and public sector policy makers. The findings of this research will: assist the OSS community to produce better OSS applications that meet organisational business needs; identify where OSS vendors should focus to offer better support and services to organisations using OSS; and provide guidance for public sector policy makers in the development of specific strategies to support OSS.
    Date of Award2011
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorJohn Campbell (Supervisor), Masoud Mohammadian (Supervisor) & Wanli Ma (Supervisor)

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