Empirical Studies on the Use of Social Software in Global Software Development - a Systematic Mapping Study

Rosalba Giuffrida, Yvonne Dittrich

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background: In Global Software Development (GSD), informal communication and knowledge sharing play an important role. Social Software (SoSo) has the potential to support and foster this key responsibility. Research on the use of SoSo in GSD is still at an early stage: although a number of empirical studies on the usage of SoSo are available in related fields, there exists no comprehensive overview of what has been investigated to date across them.
Objective: The aim of this review is to map empirical studies on the usage of SoSo in Software Engineering projects and in distributed teams, and to highlight the findings of research works which could prove to be beneficial for GSD researchers and practitioners.
Method: A Systematic Mapping Study is conducted using a broad search string that allows identifying a variety of studies which can be beneficial for GSD. Papers have been retrieved through a combination of automatic search and snowballing, hence a wide quantitative map of the research area is provided. Additionally, text extracts from the studies are qualitatively synthesised to investigate benefits and challenges of the use of SoSo.
Results: SoSo is reported as being chiefly used as a support for collaborative work, fostering awareness, knowledge management and coordination among team members. Contrary to the evident high importance of the social aspects offered by SoSo, socialization is not the most important usage reported.
Conclusions: This review reports how SoSo is used in GSD and how it is capable of supporting GSD teams. Four emerging themes in global software engineering were identified: the appropriation and development of usage structures; understanding how an ecology of communication channels and tools are used by teams; the role played by SoSo either as a subtext or as an explicit goal; and finally, the surprising low percentage of observational studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInformation and Software Technology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1143-1164
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2013


  • systematicmappingstudy,globalsoftwaredevelopment,distributedteams,socialmedia,socialsoftware, computer-supported cooperative work


Dive into the research topics of 'Empirical Studies on the Use of Social Software in Global Software Development - a Systematic Mapping Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this