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Communication and organization in software development: An empirical study

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2 Author(s)
Seaman, C.B. ; Computer Science Department, A. V. Williams Building, University of Maryland, College Park, 20742, USA ; Basili, V.R.

The empirical study described in this paper addresses the issue of communication among members of a software development organization. In particular, we have studied interactions between participants in a review process. The question of interest is whether or not organizational relationships among the review participants have an effect on the amount of communication effort expended. The study uses both quantitative and qualitative methods for data collection and analysis. These methods include participant observation, structured interviews, graphical data presentation, and nonparametric statistics. The results of this study indicate that several organizational factors do affect communication effort, but not always in a simple, straightforward way. Not surprisingly, people take less time to communicate when they are familiar with one another and when they work in close physical proximity. However, certain mixtures of organizationally “close” and “distant” participants in an interaction result in more effort needed to communicate. Also, interactions tend to be more effort-intensive when they occur in a meeting and when more people are involved. These results provide a better understanding of how organizational structure helps or hinders communication in software development.

Note: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Incorporated is distributing this Article with permission of the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) who is the exclusive owner. The recipient of this Article may not assign, sublicense, lease, rent or otherwise transfer, reproduce, prepare derivative works, publicly display or perform, or distribute the Article.  

Published in:

IBM Systems Journal  (Volume:36 ,  Issue: 4 )