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Software innovativeness. A comparison between proprietary and Free/Open Source solutions offered by Italian SMEs

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Innovation processes taking place in the software sector are already widely debated. The widespread success of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) raises new research issues, dealing with whether and how the free circulation of ideas championed by the movement and its collective management of intellectual property rights fosters innovation. The aim of this paper is to contribute to the literature by addressing the following research questions: are programs based on FOSS solutions more innovative than proprietary ones, and, if so, which innovation dimensions are typical of the FOSS production mode? Based on a sample of 134 software solutions produced by Italian Small and Medium Enterprises and using a methodology frequently applied in technology management to evaluate innovativeness of products and services, this exploratory study provides initial insights into what happens when alternative metrics are used to observe complex innovation processes in the software market.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9310.2009.00547.x

Affiliations: Department of Management, Economics, and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milano, Italy., Email: cristina1.rossi@polimi.it

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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