Background In Global Software Development (GSD) the lack of face-to-face communication is a major challenge and effective computer-mediated practices are necessary to mitigate the effect of physical distance. Communication through Social Software (SoSo) supports team coordination, helping to deal with geographical distance; however, in Software Engineering literature, there is a lack of suitable theoretical concepts to analyze and describe everyday practices of globally-distributed software development teams and to study the role of communication through SoSo. Objective The paper proposes a theoretical framework for analyzing how communicative and coordinative practices are constituted and maintained in globally-distributed teams. Method The framework is based on the concepts of communicative genres and coordination mechanisms; it is motivated and explicated through examples from two qualitative empirical cases. Results Coordination mechanisms and communicative genres mutually support each other. In particular, communication through SoSo supports team members in establishing, developing and maintaining social protocols within the distributed team. Software Engineering tools and methods provide templates for coordination mechanism that need to be adapted and adopted in order to support the project at hand. SoSo serves as a medium for the necessary metawork. The theoretical framework proposed is used to describe both the practices in an established industrial project and the establishing of practices in three student teams. The framework allows explaining the heterogeneity of practices observed. Conclusions This paper presents a conceptual framework to study the role of communication through SoSo for coordination in GSD. The usefulness of the framework is supported by empirical findings on the role of SoSo. The theoretical framework can be beneficial for future research that aims to analyze and describe not only the role of SoSo, but also how communicative and coordinative practices can be established and maintained in GSD teams.
Information and Software Technology, 2015, Vol 63, p. 11-30
Global software development; Communicative genres; Coordination mechanisms; Social software; Human aspects