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The capability maturity model (CMM) approach to software process improvement is the most dominant paradigm of organizational change that software organizations implement. While some organizations have achieved various levels of success with the CMM, the vast majority have failed. In this paper, we investigate the assumptions about organizational culture embedded in the CMM models and we discuss their implications for software process improvement (SPI) initiatives. In this paper, we utilize the well-known competing values model to surface and analyze the assumptions underlying the CMM. Our analysis reveals contradictory sets of assumptions about organizational culture in the CMM approach. We believe that an understanding of these contradictions can help researchers address some of the difficulties that have been observed in implementing and institutionalizing SPI programs in organizations. Further, this research can help to open up a much-needed line of research that would examine the organization theory assumptions that underpin CMM. This type of research is important if CMM is to evolve as an effective organizational change paradigm for software organizations.