Government Technology Policy, Social Value, and National Competitiveness

52 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2019

Date Written: March 3, 2019


This study seeks to better understand the impact that government technology procurement regulations have on social value and national competitiveness. To do this, it examines the impact of a change in France’s technology procurement policy that required government agencies to favor open source software (OSS) over proprietary software in an attempt to reduce costs creating an unexpected demand shock for OSS. Analysis using the rest of the EU as controls via difference-in-differences and synthetic control frameworks shows that this policy change led to an increase of nearly 600,000 OSS contributions per year from France, creating social value by increasing the availability and quality of free and open source software. Estimates indicate this would have cost paid software developers roughly $20 million per year to replicate. However, the open nature of such goods means that any country can reap the benefits of these efforts. Therefore, additional economic outcomes that enhance France’s competitiveness are also considered. The results show that within France, the regulation led to a 0.6% - 5.4% yearly increase in companies that use OSS, a 9% - 18% yearly increase in the number of IT-related startups, a 6.6% - 14% yearly increase in the number of individuals employed in IT related jobs, and a 5% - 16% yearly decrease in software related patents. All of these outcomes help to increase productivity and competitiveness at the national level. In aggregate, these results show that changes in government technology policy that favor OSS can have a positive impact on both global social value and domestic national competitiveness.

JEL Classification: H57, M15, O31, O32, O33, O35, O38

Suggested Citation

Nagle, Frank, Government Technology Policy, Social Value, and National Competitiveness (March 3, 2019). Harvard Business School Strategy Unit Working Paper No. 19-103, Available at SSRN: or

Frank Nagle (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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