Free and open source software in developing contexts: from open in principle to open in the consequences

Gianluca Miscione, Kevin Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Originating in the USA and Northern Europe, Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) found on the internet its fertile environment. In more recent years, FOSS is becoming an increasingly important element in strategies for development and implementation of information and communication technologies also in developing countries. Mainstream research on FOSS has catered to the underlying principles or freedom, open organizational forms, and on its economical aspects. The purpose of this paper is to shed new light on the actual consequences of FOSS, often left in the background.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper examines where FOSS principles' assumptions are likely to be more evident: in contexts of developing countries, which are geographically and organizationally far from the original environment of FOSS. A mixed methodology characterizes this work: quantitative and qualitative methods bring readers' attention to unusual empirical settings and downplayed organizational processes of information technology (IT) implementation and adoption.

Findings: The consequences of FOSS on IT implementation and actual use are ambivalent. It is argued that FOSS adoption does not happen spontaneously, neither by decree, and that the relevance of open technologies as public goods remains in the different role of local actual technical and organizational capabilities, and environment conditions.

Originality/value: Such a focus complements existing studies on the economical relevance of FOSS, which are not the focus of this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-56
JournalJournal of information, communication and ethics in society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Internet
  • Public domain software
  • Communication technologies
  • Africa
  • India


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