Value creation and value capture fro open source software publisher : a new business model based on mutualisation

Muselli, Laure (2009) Value creation and value capture fro open source software publisher : a new business model based on mutualisation. In Gillin, L (Ed.) Proceedings of the 6th AGSE International Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, 3 – 6 February, Adelaide, Australia .

View at publisher


Key topics:

Since the birth of the Open Source movement in the mid-80's, open source software has become more and more widespread. Amongst others, the Linux operating system, the Apache web server and the Firefox internet explorer have taken substantial market shares to their proprietary competitors. Open source software is governed by particular types of licenses. As proprietary licenses only allow the software's use in exchange for a fee, open source licenses grant users more rights like the free use, free copy, free modification and free distribution of the software, as well as free access to the source code. This new phenomenon has raised many managerial questions: organizational issues related to the system of governance that underlie such open source communities (Raymond, 1999a; Lerner and Tirole, 2002; Lee and Cole 2003; Mockus et al. 2000; Tuomi, 2000; Demil and Lecocq, 2006; O'Mahony and Ferraro, 2007;Fleming and Waguespack, 2007), collaborative innovation issues (Von Hippel, 2003; Von Krogh et al., 2003; Von Hippel and Von Krogh, 2003; Dahlander, 2005; Osterloh, 2007; David, 2008), issues related to the nature as well as the motivations of developers (Lerner and Tirole, 2002; Hertel, 2003; Dahlander and McKelvey, 2005; Jeppesen and Frederiksen, 2006), public policy and innovation issues (Jullien and Zimmermann, 2005; Lee, 2006), technological competitions issues related to standard battles between proprietary and open source software (Bonaccorsi and Rossi, 2003; Bonaccorsi et al. 2004, Economides and Katsamakas, 2005; Chen, 2007), intellectual property rights and licensing issues (Laat 2005; Lerner and Tirole, 2005; Gambardella, 2006; Determann et al., 2007). A major unresolved issue concerns open source business models and revenue capture, given that open source licenses imply no fee for users. On this topic, articles show that a commercial activity based on open source software is possible, as they describe different possible ways of doing business around open source (Raymond, 1999; Dahlander, 2004; Daffara, 2007; Bonaccorsi and Merito, 2007). These studies usually look at open source-based companies. Open source-based companies encompass a wide range of firms with different categories of activities: providers of packaged open source solutions, IT Services&Software Engineering firms and open source software publishers. However, business models implications are different for each of these categories: providers of packaged solutions and IT Services&Software Engineering firms' activities are based on software developed outside their boundaries, whereas commercial software publishers sponsor the development of the open source software. This paper focuses on open source software publishers' business models as this issue is even more crucial for this category of firms which take the risk of investing in the development of the software. Literature at last identifies and depicts only two generic types of business models for open source software publishers: the business models of ''bundling'' (Pal and Madanmohan, 2002; Dahlander 2004) and the dual licensing business models (Välimäki, 2003; Comino and Manenti, 2007). Nevertheless, these business models are not applicable in all circumstances.


The objectives of this paper are: (1) to explore in which contexts the two generic business models described in literature can be implemented successfully and (2) to depict an additional business model for open source software publishers which can be used in a different context. To do so, this paper draws upon an explorative case study of IdealX, a French open source security software publisher. This case study consists in a series of 3 interviews conducted between February 2005 and April 2006 with the co-founder and the business manager. It aims at depicting the process of IdealX's search for the appropriate business model between its creation in 2000 and 2006. This software publisher has tried both generic types of open source software publishers' business models before designing its own. Consequently, through IdealX's trials and errors, I investigate the conditions under which such generic business models can be effective. Moreover, this study describes the business model finally designed and adopted by IdealX: an additional open source software publisher's business model based on the principle of ''mutualisation'', which is applicable in a different context.

Results and implications:

Finally, this article contributes to ongoing empirical work within entrepreneurship and strategic management on open source software publishers' business models: it provides the characteristics of three generic business models (the business model of bundling, the dual licensing business model and the business model of mutualisation) as well as conditions under which they can be successfully implemented (regarding the type of product developed and the competencies of the firm). This paper also goes further into the traditional concept of business model used by scholars in the open source related literature. In this article, a business model is not only considered as a way of generating incomes (''revenue model'' (Amit and Zott, 2001)), but rather as the necessary conjunction of value creation and value capture, according to the recent literature about business models (Amit and Zott, 2001; Chresbrough and Rosenblum, 2002; Teece, 2007). Consequently, this paper analyses the business models from these two components' point of view.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 26988
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Value Creation, Open Source Software, Business Model
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Entrepreneurship (150304)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Innovation and Technology Management (150307)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Deposited On: 26 Aug 2009 01:56
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 13:52

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page