Factors Affecting Team Motivation: A Survey of Finnish Software Engineers

Factors Affecting Team Motivation: A Survey of Finnish Software Engineers

Ayse Tosun Misirli (Computer Engineering Department, Faculty of Computer and Informatics, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey), June Verner (Department of Information Processing Science, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland), Jouni Markkula (Department of Information Processing Science, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland) and Markku Oivo (Department of Information Processing Science, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/IJISMD.2015070101

Abstract

Motivation in software engineering is a complex topic. Cultural background is reported to be one of the factors moderating software engineers' motivation and project outcome. The authors conducted a survey with 36 software engineers from Finland to explore 1) the relationship between team motivation and project outcome, 2) factors that motivate Finnish engineers, and 3) how these motivational factors are related. The authors compare Finnish motivational factors with those identified in prior research. In addition they build a prediction model to identify the best indicators of team motivation for Finnish software engineers. Their results show that teamwork is the only culturally independent motivational factor. Having 1) a project manager with a clear vision (project manager vision) and 2) a project manager given full authority to manage the project (project manager authority) are also significant motivational factors among Finnish engineers. There are significant associations between some factors, e.g., customer involvement and staff appreciation. While these factors partially explain motivation in software engineering, cultural differences also play an active role in explaining team motivation. Their questionnaire needs to be updated to enable measurement of motivation for modern development practices such as agile development.
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1. Introduction

Motivation is increasingly cited as a particular human issue in software engineering (Beechman et al., 2008). Software engineers form a distinctive and recognizable professional group (Capretz, 2003). Software developers’ motivators are different from conventional motivators (e.g. rewards, recognition, staff turnover), and software engineers are often motivated by the nature of the job, e.g. variety of work, task identification, development needs, and career planning (Beechman et al., 2008). Therefore, a good understanding of motivation in software engineering will enable organizations keep their developers longer in the software engineering profession, enable the production of better quality software, increase productivity, and assist with the use and sharing of skills (Beechman et al., 2008).

Culture is one of the factors moderating software engineer’s characteristics, such as being technically competent, creative, and autonomous (Beechman et al., 2008), and affects his/her life view and work habits (Andersen, 2002). With the increasing emphasis on global software engineering (GSE) and the use of offshore developers, cultural differences are more important in software engineering teams as they influence individual expectations, team motivation, and even the outcome of the software development projects themselves (Prikladnicki et al., 2003).

Verner et al. (2014) who surveyed a number of software developers in Australia, Chile, Vietnam and USA, studied culturally dependent and independent factors that affect team motivation, as well as the relationship between team motivation and project outcome. They showed that software engineering teams are motivated by six culturally independent factors. These include 1) a project manager with good communication skills, 2) a project in which risks were reassessed, 3) a customer with confidence in the project management and development team, 4) a good working environment, 5) good teamwork, and 6) having a pleasant experience working on the project. In that research, Verner et al. (2014) also identified a number of motivational factors that were country specific, e.g. US software engineers were motivated by practitioner (developer) factors, whereas Vietnamese software engineers were the only group motivated by external project factors (customers).

In our prior work (Misirli et al. 2014), we replicated the study by Verner et al. (2014) and investigated a) the relationship between team motivation and project outcome, and b) motivational factors for Finnish software engineers and software engineers with other cultural backgrounds who live in Finland. Our results when compared with Verner et al. (2014), showed that team motivation is not related to project outcome for Finnish software engineers; this result was similar to that found for the Vietnamese software engineers by Verner et al. (2014). We found that good teamwork appears to be the only culturally independent motivational factor among software engineers for all cultures. Having 1) a project manager with a clear vision and 2) a project manager given full authority to manage the project were also considered as significant motivational factors among Finnish engineers. This factor was also found by Verner et al (2014) for Australian software engineers.

In this study, we extend our prior work (Misirli et al., 2014) by adding two new research questions (RQ5 and RQ6) listed below:

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