Scope and Timing of Deployment: Moderators of Organizational Adoption of the Linux Server Platform

Joel West, Jason Dedrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Here we present a qualitative study of how organizations do (or do not) adopt a new computer server platform standard; namely, Linux using PC-compatible hardware. While discussions of Linux typically focus on its open source origins, our respondents were interested primarily in low price. Despite this relative advantage in price, incumbent standards enjoyed other advantages identified by prior theory; namely, network effects and switching costs. We show when, how, and why such incumbent advantages are overcome by a new standard. We find that Linux adoption within organizations began for uses with a comparatively limited scope of deployment, thus minimizing network effect and switching costs disadvantages. We identify four attributes of information systems that potentially limit the scope of deployment: few links of the system to organizational processes, special-purpose computer systems, new uses, and replacement of obsolete systems. We also identify an organizational level variable—internal standardization—which increases scope of deployment and, thus, the attractiveness of the incumbent standard.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of IT Standards and Standardization Research (IJITSR)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • MIS decisions
  • computing platforms
  • network effects
  • open source
  • standards adoption
  • switching costs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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