[erlang-questions] OT: Programming Language Selection as a Business Strategy

Thomas Lindgren thomasl_erlang@REDACTED
Sat Apr 14 08:25:06 CEST 2007

--- jm <jeffm@REDACTED> wrote:

> There are quite a few pages and blog entries around
> by people advocating
> one language or another for various reasons. What
> I'm wondering is: Are
> there any academic articles evaluating the selection
> of a programming
> language as part of business strategy? I've managed
> to find a few papers
> about Information Systems, etc and business strategy
> including one
> journal almost devoted entirely to the subject, but
> am unable to find
> anything specific to language selection. This seems
> strange as the US
> DoD developed Ada and Ericsson developed Erlang in
> response in part to
> business needs. If anyone knows of any good
> references please send them
> my way.

That's an interesting question; I haven't really seen
any formal articles on the business case for choosing
languages. I'm not sure I have a lot to add to what
you write, but here goes.

There are some papers on related issues: Gabriel's
Worse is Better (and variations) and Paul Graham's
Beating the Averages. As far as I can tell, the
arguments employed are usually "common sense" rather
than quantified. Part of it would seem to be the same
decision as buying some other product to use (a
long-lived piece of machinery, say) or deciding to
follow a standard of some sort. Non-linguistic
considerations will then be important.

When choosing between a standard and the alternative,
this points to being conservative and following the
herd, but of course one also has to consider the value
added (or competitive advantage gained) by using the
alternative, non-standard language. How to determine
this? The state of the art here seems quite modest
today, but maybe digging through the project
calculation lit could suggest some useful analogous

If I were to attack the problem from scratch, I would
probably model it with "real options".


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