Date of Award

Fall 2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems - (Ph.D.)

Department

Information Systems

First Advisor

Marilyn M. Tremaine

Second Advisor

Jerry Fjermestad

Third Advisor

Starr Roxanne Hiltz

Fourth Advisor

Allen Eugene Milewski

Fifth Advisor

Surinder Singh Kahai

Abstract

Virtual teams are an important work structure in global software development. The distributed team structure enables access to a diverse set of expertise which is often not available in one location, to a cheaper labor force, and to a potentially accelerated development process that uses a twenty-four hour work structure.

Many software teams are partially distributed, that is, part of the team is colocated. Such partially distributed global software teams are an important work structure in software development projects. However, little is known about what affects or improves team members’ motivation and job satisfaction in the partially distributed environment. This study investigates the effects of leader delegation to sub-teams and trust between sub-teams on global software team members’ motivation and job satisfaction. It proposes a research framework based on specific hypotheses regarding these effects. A survey instrument was created and a pilot study conducted on student project teams in two U.S. universities. In addition, a study combining interviews and a survey distribution using industry software development teams was also conducted. The studies found that team competence predicts leader delegation to a sub-team in global software projects. Leader delegation related to teamwork process improves team members’ motivation and satisfaction with the leader. However, leader delegation may also generate negative consequences for the sub-teams, such as anxiety and pressure. Cultural distance and geographical distance impair trust development between members across sub-teams. Temporal distance causes conflicts related to excessive overtime and meeting scheduling. Trust in sub-teams is critical to improving motivation in a global software project. In addition, this study explores the impacts of language differences and software engineering profession culture on global software team members’ interactions. Suggestions are proposed for how to shape delegation strategies in partially distributed global software projects and how to improve team members’ trust in each other and their motivation. This work provides important findings for organizations interested in developing leadership skills for global software teams and retaining IT professionals at distributed sites.

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