Politics during Software Process Improvement: A Metatriangulation Analysis

Sune Dueholm Mûller, Lars Mathiassen, Pernille Kræmmergaard

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Software Process Improvement (SPI) has played a dominant role in systems development innovation research and practice for more than 20 years. However, while extant theory acknowledges the political nature of SPI initiatives, researchers have yet to empirically investigate and theorize about how organizational politics might impact outcomes. Against this backdrop, we apply metatriangulation to build new theory based on rich data from an SPI project in four business units at a high-tech firm. Reflecting the diverse ways in which politics manifests, we first analyze behaviors and outcomes in each unit using theoretical perspectives from three sociological paradigms: functionalist, interpretive, and radical structuralist. Next, we juxtapose insights across the resulting paradigmatic accounts for each unit to identify four patterns of SPI politics: applying-the-hammer, struggling-to-engage, walking-the-talk, and keeping-up-appearances. Finally, we combine the patterns we observed with insights from the literature to build a metaparadigm theory of SPI politics. In addition to contributing to Information Systems (IS) research in the key area of systems development innovation, the study furthers understanding of how metatriangulation can be applied within IS to build theory based on empirical data.
Original languageEnglish
JournalM I S Quarterly
Publication statusSubmitted - 2014

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