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Global Software Development projects could be best understood as intrinsically complex adaptive living systems: they can not purely be considered as 'designed systems', as deliberate design/ control episodes and processes (using 'software engineering' models) are intermixed with emergent change episodes and processes (that may perhaps be explained by models). Therefore the evolution of GSD projects includes the emergent as well as the deliberate aspects of system change. So to study GSD projects as complex systems we need to focus on both the state of the art of GSD research, as addressed in the software engineering discipline, as well as other disciplines that studied complexity such as Enterprise Architecture, Complexity and Information Theory, Axiomatic Design theory, for example. In this paper we study the complexity of GSD projects and propose the application of Extended Axiomatic Design (EAD) theory to reduce the complexity of GSD projects and to increase their probability of success. We also demonstrate that by satisfying all design axioms this 'structural' complexity could be minimised. By satisfying all three axioms of EAD, GSD management could make the life cycle activities of GSD planning and development projects as independent, controlled and uncoupled as possible so that the designer can predict the next relevant states of the life history and avoid a chaotic change in such projects.
Date of Conference: 27-30 Aug. 2012