Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Resistance is frequently viewed as a negative aspect of human interaction. Although resistance manifests itself in numerous ways, resistance to change is frequent when individuals are introduced to new ideas or innovations. This form of resistance can limit forward progress of either an individual or an organization. However, a few papers investigated possible positive roles of resistance in human life. This paper proposes that resistance can be a positive motivator to achieve change. Open source software (OSS) is a technological innovation that is laden with aspects of resistance. One of the initial motivations for the development of open source software was "psychological reactance" on the part of a few software developers. Reactance is a limited part of the overall construct of resistance; specifically, resistance caused by external threats to an individual's freedom of choice, which generally manifests itself affectively. This paper looks at the role of resistance as a motivator for technological innovation from the perspective of open source softwre development. It also presents techniques for overcoming resistance to the adoption of open source software. Specific techniques presented are the Alpha and Omega strategies for overcoming resistance. Alpha strategies work by attempting to increase the approach forces towards some goal. Conversely, Omega strategies attempt to decrease the avoidance forces, thereby removing resistance to change. Both techniques are used in the context of open source software development to motivate participants.