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Implementing open source software to conform to national policy

Lizette Weilbach (University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Elaine Byrne (Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin, Ireland)

Journal of Systems and Information Technology

ISSN: 1328-7265

Article publication date: 16 August 2011




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the implementation process of an open source (OS) enterprise management system in the South African Public Sector. Change management was observed in relation to challenges and opportunities in the alignment of the internal organisational changes to the imperatives of the national free and OS software policy.


An interpretive case study, using interviews, observation and document review was used.


Alignment of the organisational environment, change management strategies and technology is required to address many of the “common” change management challenges. However, information and communication technology policies are formed and adopted in a highly complex environment and have embedded property and power relations which impact the nature and direction of their implementation. In this case one of the main challenges arose from the alignment of internal organisational change to a national policy which did not seem to have the full support of the agency which was tasked with implementing it.


Many of the challenges faced by the public sector department are commonly described in change management literature, such as inadequate consideration for the social context in which the change was to take place. What emerges from this paper is a caution that there is not a sole voice within government and in a multi‐levelled and multi‐sectoral institution there exist many different rationalities. The internal alignment of the divergent voices within government would be a prerequisite for the organisational environment, change management strategies and technology to be aligned.



Weilbach, L. and Byrne, E. (2011), "Implementing open source software to conform to national policy", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 286-302.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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