Empirical Software Engineering

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 818–847 | Cite as

Productivity paradoxes revisited

Assessing the relationship between quality maturity levels and labor productivity in brazilian software companies
  • Carlos Henrique C. Duarte


The adoption of quality assurance methods based on software process improvement models has been regarded as an important source of variability in software productivity. Some companies perceive that their implementation has prohibitive costs, whereas some authors identify in their use a way to comply with software development patterns and standards, produce economic value and lead to corporate performance improvement. In this paper, we investigate the relationship between quality maturity levels and labor productivity, using a data set containing 687 Brazilian software firms. We study here the relationship between labor productivity, as measured through the annual gross revenue per worker ratio, and quality levels, which were appraised from 2006 to 2012 according to two distinct software process improvement models: MPS.BR and CMMI. We perform independent statistical tests using appraisals carried out according to each of these models, consequently obtaining a data set with as many observations as possible, in order to seek strong support for our research. We first show that MPS.BR and CMMI appraised quality maturity levels are correlated, but we find no statistical evidence that they are related to higher labor productivity or productivity growth. On the contrary, we present evidence suggesting that average labor productivity is higher in software companies without appraised quality levels. Moreover, our analyses suggest that companies with appraised quality maturity levels are more or less productive depending on factors such as their business nature, main origin of capital and maintained quality level.


Productivity Software engineering economics Software process models Software quality assurance 



The author wishes to thank the Softex Society administration, for providing a compilation of historical data concerning MPS.BR appraisals, as well as to Luiz Paulo Alves Franca and some anonymous reviewers, for their helpful comments and criticism on earlier versions of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BNDESRio de JaneiroBrazil

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