Stakeholder influence on technical debt management in the public sector: An embedded case study

Mille Edith Nielsen, Christian Østergaard Madsen

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Technical debt (TD) entails the shortcuts and unsuitable choices made during the development or maintenance of an IT system, which can result in negative consequences such as inefficiency and instability of the IT system. Digitalizing the government has led to the development of numerous IT systems which must be maintained to prevent decay, standstill, additional costs, and a decline in software quality. Previous studies on TD have primarily focused on the private sector, while TD in the public sector has largely been ignored. Therefore, this case study investigated TD management in relation to two IT systems in a Danish agency. Through participant observations and in-situ interviews we studied actual TD behavior, while stakeholder theory combined with a categorization of TD types and activities served as our theoretical lens. Thus, our study (1) identifies the
stakeholders influencing an agency's TD management, (2) maps stakeholders' actions, and (3) identifies stakeholders' influence on TD. We found that TD extends beyond the influence of software developers and is also influenced by the behavior of several non-technical stakeholders, e.g., the European Parliament. We offer practical recommendations for TD management based on these findings.
TidsskriftGovernment Information Quarterly
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - apr. 2022


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