Research Paper

The Sociability of Free Software: A GNU Look at Free Software Identified Businesses as Social Entrepreneurships

Author(s)
A. Barcomb

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Year
2010

Keywords
free software, open source software, public good, small business, social entrepreneurship, social ventures

Abstract
This research strives to address the gap in the literature surrounding companies which identify with the philosophical values associated with the Free Software movement, which have historically been associated with Open Source businesses. It investigates whether ethically-motivated Free Software identified companies resemble social entrepreneurships. This work also examines whether there are significant differences between the business practices of Free Software identified companies, Free Software, and Open Source enterprises in order to assess if it is appropriate to address them as a group. The study is based on seven case studies, and includes one company which is a Free Software business, but does not identify with the Free Software philosophy, as well as one company which is ethically-motivated but identifies with Open Source rather than Free Software. The results indicate that there is good reason to believe that adherence to Free Software philosophy creates socially-aware businesses, which may be social entrepreneurships. No problems were discovered with the practice of grouping together Free Software and Open Source companies in the study of business practices, provided that a broad definition of success is used.

BibTeX

@mastersthesis{barcomb:2010:sociability,
  author = {Barcomb, Ann},
  title = {The Sociability of Free Software: A GNU Look at Free Software Identified Businesses as Social Entrepreneurships},
  year = {2010},
  publisher = {Maastricht University},
  keywords = {free software, open source software, public good, small business, social entrepreneurship, social ventures}
}