Adopting open source software in public administration: The importance of boundary spanners and political commitment

Alexander van Loon and Dimiter Toshkov

Government Information Quaterly (2015), 32(2): 207–215


Open source software (OSS) adoption in public administrations around the world has been uneven. Despite the substantive economic and efficiency-related implications of OSS adoption, there is surprisingly little research into the determinants of the diffusion of OSS across public sector jurisdictions. In this article we explore the variation in OSS adoption among Dutch local administrations. The Dutch central government adopted a policy to stimulate the use of OSS in the public sector, but the non-mandatory character of the policy resulted in great differences in the degree of adoption of OSS at the local level. Using data from a new survey of municipalities in the Netherlands and proportional odds statistical models to analyze the data, we show that the degree of OSS adoption crucially depends on the presence of boundary spanners and political commitment within the local government. On the other hand, oft-suspected factors like financial stress and jurisdiction size have no discernible effects. Our findings have implications for understanding the spread of OSS in the public sector and for public policies designed to encourage OSS diffusion.


Link at journal Full text (pre-print) Export citation

Replication material

R script Data (csv)