Final Thesis: The Economics of Open Source User Foundations

Abstract: Companies are facing difficult build-or-buy decisions when acquiring enterprise software. Open Source User Foundations provide an alternative way of acquisition that is especially relevant in software marketplaces where a handful of software vendors serve a large number of software buyers. This thesis presents an exploratory qualitative single-case case study on the software ecosystem that spans around the Open Source User Foundation openKONSEQUENZ (oK). We aimed to build a theory on how software product vendors, consulting firms, and service providers sustainably collaborate in a software ecosystem whose main parameters are being determined by a consortium of software user firms. The qualitative data analysis of expert interviews yielded an overview of the different players and their economic goals. All companies in the software ecosystem try to achieve similar technological goals. The economic conflict lies in the business model that is closely entangled with technology. The consortium wants to lower market entry barriers and change the business model, while established software vendors want to defend their market-leading position. The economic conflict seems to be bridgeable from a neutral perspective and we offer possible starting points for conflict resolution.

Keywords: Software user foundation, consortial software development, Open Source, community source, openKONSEQUENZ, NetzDatenStrom, SCADA software, distribution system operators

PDFs: Master Thesis, Work Description

Reference: Bettina Schwab. The Economics of Open Source User Foundations. Master Thesis, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg: 2018.