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Software maintenance can be successfully accomplished if the computing arrangements of the people doing the maintenance are compatible with their established patterns of work in the setting. To foster and achieve such compatibility requires an understanding of the reasons and the circumstances in which participants carry out maintenance activities. In particular, it requires an understanding of how software users and maintainers act toward the changing circumstances and unexpected events in their work situation that give rise to software system alterations. To contribute to such an understanding, we describe a comparative analysis of the work involved in maintaining and evolving text-processing systems in two academic computer science organizations. This analysis shows that how and why software systems are maintained depends on occupational and workplace contingencies, and vice versa.
Date of Publication: March 1987