Role of Collective Ownership and Coding Standards in Coordinating Expertise in Software Project Teams

Maruping, L.M., Zhang, X., and Venkatesh, V. “Role of Collective Ownership and Coding Standards in Coordinating Expertise in Software Project Teams,” European Journal of Information Systems (18:4), 2009, 355-371.

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Software development is a complex undertaking that continues to present software project teams with numerous challenges. Software project teams are adopting extreme programming (XP) practices in order to overcome the challenges of software development in an increasingly dynamic environment. The ability to coordinate developer efforts is critical in such conditions. Expertise coordination has been identified as an important emergent process through which software project teams manage non-routine challenges in software development. However, the extent to which XP enables software project teams to coordinate expertise is unknown. Drawing on the agile development and expertise coordination literatures, we examine the role of collective ownership and coding standards as processes and practices that govern coordination in software project teams. We examine the relationship between collective ownership, coding standards, expertise coordination, and software project technical quality in a field study of 56 software project teams comprising 509 programmers. We found that collective ownership and coding standards play a role in improving software project technical quality. We also found that collective ownership and coding standards moderated the relationship between expertise coordination and software project technical quality, with collective ownership attenuating the relationship and coding standards strengthening the relationship. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.
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