An Identity Perspective for Predicting Software Development Project Temporal Success

An Identity Perspective for Predicting Software Development Project Temporal Success

Jeff Crawford
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-344-9.ch002
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This theoretical work draws on group development literature to propose a model for increasing the likelihood of achieving temporal success within a software development (SD) environment. The study addresses a group’s temporal performance through a punctuated equilibrium (PE) lens. As a means of extending the PE model of group development for a SD project context, this research will consider social and temporal aspects of identity within each group in order to address the varying nature of temporal success. First, anthropological research on rituals in society will be applied to present a project-asritual perspective, where social and temporal identity are suggested to flow from the rites of passage that exist during the initial meeting and temporal midpoint of a group. Second, social identity theory will be applied to posit that both types of identity are positively associated with a group’s ability to meet temporal deadlines. This theoretical piece is expected to make two primary contributions to literature. First, group development literature is enhanced by providing an extension of the PE model to address environments where social and temporal identities are variable. This contribution is significant since it will allow researchers to apply a PE perspective in real world project team environments. Second, the research contributes to SD literature by offering a clear perspective regarding key factors that can serve to impact a SD project team’s ability to meet temporal deadline.
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Theoretical Perspectives On Group Development

Group development literature has a long, rich and somewhat divided history1. Early researchers of group development suggested that productive groups progress sequentially through a series of well defined stages during their life (Tuckman & Jensen, 1977). While a sequential view of group development doesn’t preclude the existence of behaviors in any given stage (i.e., work activities in the forming stage), it does suggest that each phase is characterized by a dominant set of behaviors specific to that phase (Wheelan, 1994). A sequential perspective suggests that groups must navigate in a linear fashion through each developmental stage before they can have a chance of attaining task success. In the late 1980s, the idea of gradual sequential development was challenged by the research of Connie Gersick (1988, 1989), who used a widely accepted theory of biological evolution (PE) to frame the task-related behavior of small groups. The PE perspective illustrated that groups are likely to complete tasks on-time provided they share a consistent sensitivity to temporal deadlines and demonstrate that sensitivity through increased activity at the group’s temporal midpoint. While often positioned as competing and tangential explanations of group development (Wheelan, Davidson, & Tilin, 2003), recent work has suggested that both perspectives offer valid explanations of group behavior, but from different points of reference. Specifically, sequential models of group development focus on the socio-emotional development of groups throughout their life while a PE model illustrates group development in light of work activity over time (Chang, Bordia, & Duck, 2003). Since this research focuses on the temporal nature of SD projects, a PE model of group development is the most appropriate framework for understanding the role of group development in temporal SD project success.

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