socGSD (Completed Project)

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The Social, Organisational and Cultural Aspects of Global Software Development project (socGSD) was a project that focused on the rising phenomenon of global software development – viewed as a human activity, conducted by each participant in a local context. The project started on 1 April 2004 and ended on 30 September 2008.

The real-world practice of developing software in globally distributed projects had been viewed from various perspectives, but technical and engineering together with managerial and organizational viewpoints had been dominating the research agenda up to that point. Our standpoint was that successful participation in GSD is ultimately a matter of people in a particular local context understanding what to do in relation to other participants in other locations at a certain point in time and how it can practically be done with the resources available to local actors. The main purpose of our research was to understand the local social practices of the people involved in GSD and how this local activity can contribute to global results.

The work focused on exploring the diversity of ways in which distributed teams shape their work practices in real time and place and come to a joint understanding of their objectives. Our goal is revealing the complex dynamics of work which may be difficult to articulate in formal descriptions of processes or methods, but yet pose significant constraints on how the work can be carried out. This emphasis on the actual conduct of collaborative work is influenced by our background in the CSCW (Computer Supported Cooperative Work) field, and it provides an alternative perspective on the key determinants of successful and unsuccessful global cooperative networks. We emphasize the role of work place studies as a method for informing our understanding of people’s everyday work practice. Our research methods are influenced by ethnography and mainly rely on participant observations and in situ interviews, as well as analysis of documents and of electronic communication.

The socGSD team done extensive fieldwork in several multinational companies, mainly covering a number of sites in Ireland where software development is being conducted involving globally distributed teams. Time has also been devoted to the observation of a global open source project and to the study of a number of outsourcing relationships involving Romanian SMEs.

The project was part of a Lero cluster of projects investigating global software development and was funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) under PI grant 03/IN3/1408C.

Project Blog: ‘Tales from the Field of Software Engineering’

Duration: 1 April, 2004 -> 30 September, 2008

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