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An empirically based terminology and taxonomy for global software engineering

Abstract

Many organizations nowadays strive for utilization of benefits offered by global software engineering (GSE) and sourcing strategies are thus discussed more often. Since there are so many variations of the attributes associated with global software projects a large amount of new terms has been introduced. The diversity in sourcing jargon however has caused difficulties in determining which term to use in which situation, and thus causing further obstacles to searching and finding relevant research during e.g. systematic literature reviews. The inability of judging the applicability of the research in an industrial context is another important implication on the transferability of research into practice. Thus the need for accurate terminology and definitions for different global sourcing situations emerges as a way for the community to build upon each other’s work and hence making progress more quickly. In this paper we first investigate the state of the use of the GSE jargon concluding that terminology is very diverse (many synonyms used to describe the same phenomena), often confusing (same terms used to describe different phenomena) and occasionally ambiguous (few terms used to describe several phenomena). In order to address the identified problems, we conducted a Delphi-inspired study with ten well-established researchers in GSE and developed an empirically based glossary for the key concepts in global software engineering. We then propose a taxonomy for GSE by categorizing the selected terms based on generalization-specialization relationships and illustrate how the taxonomy can be used to categorize and map existing knowledge. The contribution targets future researchers, who will publish or synthesize further empirical work and practitioners, who are interested in published empirical cases. Therefore this work is expected to make a contribution to the future development of research in the GSE field, and alleviate understandability and transferability of existing and future knowledge into practice.

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Acknowledgements

We are thankful to all experts who have kindly accepted our invitation and contributed to this initiative, and especially for their dedication and interest in the results. This kept us motivated. We would like to express our thanks to the reviewers, whose constructive comments helped improve the paper.

The research by Dr. Darja Šmite and Prof. Claes Wohlin is supported by the following research grants: R2D2 (2009/0249) and BESQ + (20100311) from the Knowledge Foundation in Sweden. Dr. Darja Šmite and Zane Galviņa are also supported by the European Social Fund through a research project “Application of computer science and its links to quantum physics” at the University of Latvia. Prof. Rafael Prikladnicki holds research grants from CNPq (550130/2011-0, 483125/2010-5, and 560037/2010-4), from Ci&T, and from the PDTI program, financed by Dell Computers of Brazil Ltd. (Law 8.248/91).

Author information

Correspondence to Darja Šmite.

Additional information

Editor: Nachiappan Nagappan

Appendix

Appendix

No. Authors Year Title Venue Vol. Iss. Pages
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Šmite, D., Wohlin, C., Galviņa, Z. et al. An empirically based terminology and taxonomy for global software engineering. Empir Software Eng 19, 105–153 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10664-012-9217-9

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Keywords

  • Global Software Engineering
  • Global sourcing
  • Offshoring
  • Outsourcing
  • Taxonomy
  • Terminology