On shared understanding in software engineering: an essay

  • Martin GlinzEmail author
  • Samuel A. Fricker
Special Issue Paper


Shared understanding is essential for efficient software engineering when the risk of unsatisfactory out-come and rework of project results shall be low. Today, however, shared understanding is used mostly in an unreflected, ad-hoc way. This affects the quality of the engineered software solutions and generates re-work once the quality problems are discovered. In this article, we investigate the role, value, and usage of shared understanding in software engineering. We contribute a reflected analysis of the problem, in particular of how to rely on shared understanding that is implicit, rather than explicit. After an overview of the state of the art we discuss forms and value of shared understanding in software engineering, survey enablers and obstacles, compile existing practices for dealing with shared understanding, and present a roadmap for improving knowledge and practice in this area.


Shared understanding Software engineering Implicit shared understanding 



We thank the members of the Requirements Engineering Research Group at the University of Zurich for valuable comments on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of InformaticsUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Software Engineering Research LaboratoryBlekinge Institute of Technology (BTH)KarlskronaSweden

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