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How do Open Source software companies respond to institutional pressures? A business model perspective

Khaireddine Mouakhar (Normandy Business School, Le Havre, France)
Albéric Tellier (Institut d’Administration des Entreprises, Université Caen Normandie, NIMEC, Caen, France)

Journal of Enterprise Information Management

ISSN: 1741-0398

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




Open Source software companies (OSSCs) are confronted with institutional pressures from Open Source software (OSS) communities. They must find an acceptable balance between the expectations of these communities and their own business model. However, there are still few studies that try to analyse the OSSC business models. The purpose of this paper is to highlight OSSC typical business models by using rich empirical data.


The methodology is based on a combination of quantitative analysis of a sample of 66 OSSCs and qualitative analysis of three typical situations resulting from that sample.


The quantitative study enables the authors to highlight three typical business models. The in-depth study of three typical cases enables the authors to specify these OSSC business models. The authors can distinguish four key dimensions: the relationship developed with the OSS communities, the strategic manoeuvres made, the key resources and competitive positioning.

Research limitations/implications

The results indicate that it is possible for firms to accommodate both profit and non-profit logics using different strategic manoeuvres to position themselves with regard to the Open Source institutional environment. Such accommodation requires the development of key resources and the adoption of suitable competitive positioning.

Practical implications

This study allows the authors to highlight two main practical contributions for OSSCs’ directors. First, the different manoeuvres identified may help them to ensure coherence between their strategic choices and the business model chosen. Second, the results can help OSSC founders identify value creation mechanisms more clearly by analysing four key variables.


This paper provides new insight about OSSCs business models. It aggregates four dimensions that provide a more “fine-grained” analysis of business models, while other studies often emphasise one dimension (usually the regime of appropriability).



Mouakhar, K. and Tellier, A. (2017), "How do Open Source software companies respond to institutional pressures? A business model perspective", Journal of Enterprise Information Management, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 534-554.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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