Persistent Discontinuities in Global Software Development Teams: Adaption through Closely Coupled Work Practices

Rasmus Eskild Jensen

Publikation: Bog / Antologi / Rapport / Ph.D.-afhandlingPh.d.-afhandling


Research on global software development proposes that discontinuities eventually can turn into a constant state or continuities when routine and practices have found a state that can handle the discontinuity. Initial findings from this research showed that in global software development teams, continuities rarely emerge, because the establishment of shared norms and expectations are constantly disrupted. However, despite the lack continuity the project members in this particular project managed to create coordinative practices allowing them to experience the best collaboration to date. Using this as a starting point, it is clear that researchers still know little about how practitioners adjust and adapt to persistent discontinuities in globally distributed teams or how practitioners coordinate the work to bridge persistent discontinuities. Investigating the data material from an ethnographic work place study of a Danish-Philippine software development project, this dissertation contributes by asking the following research question: How do IT developers coordinate the work to adapt to frequent changes in global software development projects?

The data material revealed a gradual shift towards more closely coupled work practices over the course of three years as practitioners adjusted to make the collaboration work. Firstly, mutually shared financial responsibility was key to establishing interdependence between the Danish and Philippine project members. Secondly, the organizational structures were gradually changed to better facilitate global collaboration with flexible travel policies to alleviate the risk of emergent negative sub-group dynamics. Lastly, closely coupled work practices became a method for the practitioners to coordinate the work and reduce the complexity of discontinuities. Closely coupled work practices emphasize the importance of establishing mutual shared dependencies across project members and locations to establish an incentive for more interaction. Sharing dependencies across horizontal and vertical hierarchies connected project members, which enabled knowledge sharing and personal connections on several levels. These connections made the team more resistant to frequent changes in the team composition and made it easier to trace commitment in the everyday work, which was essential for completing the task.

In conclusion, the dissertation found that changes in the organizational structures alone were not enough for making the collaboration work, but combined with closely coupled work practices allowed the practitioners to adapt and react to frequent changes in the project.
ForlagIT-Universitetet i København
Antal sider144
ISBN (Trykt)978-87-7949-328-5
StatusUdgivet - 2015


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'Persistent Discontinuities in Global Software Development Teams: Adaption through Closely Coupled Work Practices'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.