A Field Study of Structures, Affordances, and Coordination Mechanisms of a Cross-Organizational Extended Team in Global Software Development

Mansooreh Zahedi, Muhammad Ali Babar

Research output: Book / Anthology / Report / Ph.D. thesisReportResearch


Context: Growing popularity of Global Software Development (GSD) has resulted in an increasing number of cross-organizational teams that are formed according to Extended Team Model (ETM). There is little empirical body of knowledge about the structures (work, social, and communication) that may exist in these types of teams and the potential strengths and weaknesses of these structures in dealing with GSD challenges.

Objective: This research has been motivated by the need of studying the types of work, communication and social structures designed and implemented for a cross-organizational extended GSD team and the kinds of collaborative affordances available to support GSD teams. Moreover, this research also aimed at identifying and understanding the interdependencies created by the existing structures and the coordination mechanisms provided to deal with the interdependencies and how they can contribute to alleviate or exacerbate GSD challenges.

Method: We used the case study research methodology in the context of a cross-organizational ETM consisting of multiple nationalities and multiple sites. We used semi-structured interview as our main data collection approach. We carried out 12 interviews with both onshore and offshore team members. We applied qualitative data analysis approach called thematic analysis for finding the answers to our key research questions.

Results: Our study has identified that the current work structure of ETM create several kinds of interdependencies for which they have introduced dens communication and social structures that appear to afford several means of collaboration for performing the interdependent software development activities by building the feeling of togetherness and high level of trust, and making ease of initiating conversations, establishing common understandings and maintaining task and team awareness. However, the existing structures do not help resolve the difficulties associated with communication gap, delayed feedback, and requirements related challenges. We also found that the coordination mechanisms being used for dealing with the interdependencies may directly or indirectly impact the challenges that globally distributed teams are expected to face.

Conclusion: This study has revealed that whilst the identified structures of the studied cross-organizational extended GSD team can help deal with different kinds of GSD challenges, these structures and the affordances and coordination mechanisms associated with them may also have certain types of challenges inherent in them. We make a few recommendations for improving the current structures to deal with the observed challenges. Our findings are expected to provide practitioners with useful insights into the types of structures and associated challenges for implementing cross-organizational ETM in GSD and researchers with some potential venues for further research in the areas of structures, affordances, and coordination mechanisms for effectively implementing cross-organizational extended GSD teams.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherIT-Universitetet i København
Number of pages50
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7949-275-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
SeriesI T University. Technical Report Series


  • Global Software Development
  • Global Software Engineering
  • Knowledge management
  • information acquisition and sharing


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