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Motivation and Autonomy in Global Software Development

Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series (LNBIP,volume 306)

Abstract

Global software development has become the norm rather than the exception for even the smallest companies. However, global software development is known to lead to numerous negative effects among distributed teams. This paper focuses on the effect of global software development on motivation. Specifically we ask: “Does increased autonomy, through the introduction of scrum, result in higher motivation among distributed developers?” We studied two distributed software development teams within one company headquartered in Ireland. Teams employ the scrum approach to software development which emphasizes, among other things, autonomy. We observed the teams during their scrum ceremonies, interviewed each team member and administered a motivation survey. We found that the difference in motivation levels before and after the introduction of scrum was slight and not statistically significant. Instead, there was a significant difference in the motivation levels of experienced team members, which were lower than less experienced members.

Keywords

  • Global software development
  • Agile software development
  • Scrum
  • Autonomy
  • Motivation

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Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.

Notes

  1. 1.

    We used the unpaired Wilcoxon test to compare two different samples, rather than pairs of results from the same sample.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the members of Team A and Team B for their generous and thoughtful collaboration on this study, and OptiManage, for allowing us to study their software development efforts. This work was supported, in part, by Science Foundation Ireland grants 10/CE/I1855 and 13/RC/2094 to Lero - the Irish Software Research Centre (http://www.lero.i.e). This work was supported, in part, by Enterprise Ireland and the European Development Fund through grant IR20130022.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ita Richardson .

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Appendix A: Interview Protocol

Appendix A: Interview Protocol

A.1 Demographics

  1. (1)

    Time at OptiManage.

  2. (2)

    Time on current project.

  3. (3)

    Current position.

  4. (4)

    Current location.

  5. (5)

    Previous position & company.

  6. (6)

    Total development experience.

  7. (7)

    Total domain experience.

  8. (8)

    Education and formal qualifications.

  9. (9)

    Gender.

  10. (10)

    Nationality.

A.2 Motivation Rating

For the next two questions, rate your motivation on the following scale: Very low, Somewhat low, Neither low nor high, Somewhat high, Very high

  1. (1)

    How would you rate your motivation now?

  2. (2)

    How would you rate your motivation prior to introduction of Scrum?

A.3 Project

  1. (1)

    How would you describe your current project?

  2. (2)

    How would you describe your project’s current domain?

  3. (3)

    What is your role?

  4. (4)

    Have you met any of your remote colleagues?

  5. (5)

    Does geographic separation hinder the project?

  6. (6)

    Why do you think OptiManage is employing distributed devel-opment for this project?

  7. (7)

    Have you had any training in Agile methods?

  8. (8)

    Have you had any training in distributed development?

A.4 Process

  1. (1)

    Describe your dev process.

    1. (a)

      How do devlopers test changes?

    2. (b)

      How are builds created for QA?

    3. (c)

      Is build machine a bottleneck?

    4. (d)

      How does “outside of sprint” work?

    5. (e)

      Are there separate QA tasks?

    6. (f)

      Are spikes time-boxed? How is effort accounted for?

    7. (g)

      Is sprint too short?

    8. (h)

      Does the Product Owner ever make estimates?

    9. (i)

      What is the [important customer] button?

    10. (j)

      Who is [Chief Architect]?

  2. (2)

    Does the application domain restrict the process in any way?

  3. (3)

    How would you describe the previous process (before Scrum)?

  4. (4)

    What advantages does Scrum offer over that process?

  5. (5)

    What advantages did the previous process have over Scrum?

  6. (6)

    What is working well with Scrum?

  7. (7)

    What is not working well with Scrum?

  8. (8)

    What obstacles exist that prevent Scrum from working well?

  9. (9)

    What is the best aspect of Scrum?

  10. (10)

    What is the worst aspect of Scrum?

  11. (11)

    If there was one thing you could change, what would it be?

A.5 Motivation

  1. 1.

    What aspects of your work in software engineering do you get most satisfaction from?

  2. 2.

    What makes you stay working in software engineering?

  3. 3.

    What factors attracted you to work in software engineering?

  4. 4.

    What makes software development worthwhile to you?

  5. 5.

    What do you plan to do when you have completed your current project?

  6. 6.

    On a scale of 1 – 5 how motivated are you in your current role and project? (1 = very low, 2 = somewhat high, 3 = neither high nor low, 4 = somewhat high, 5 = very high).

  7. 7.

    If you didn’t answer 5 to the previous question, what do you think could improve your motivation?

  8. 8.

    Are there any aspects of your job that you find de-motivating? If so, please list the top three here.

  9. 9.

    Please add any ideas you have here about motivating or de-motivating aspects of your job. (Note: motivating aspects of your job relate to things that you do for reasons of personal fulfillment. De-motivating aspects are constraints that are external to you and outside your immediate control).

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Noll, J., Beecham, S., Razzak, A., Richardson, B., Barcomb, A., Richardson, I. (2017). Motivation and Autonomy in Global Software Development. In: Oshri, I., Kotlarsky, J., Willcocks, L. (eds) Global Sourcing of Digital Services: Micro and Macro Perspectives. Global Sourcing 2017. Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing, vol 306. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-70305-3_2

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