Global Software Engineering: Virtualization and Coordination PDF by Gamel O. Wiredu

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Global Software Engineering: Virtualization and Coordination
By Gamel O. Wiredu
Global Software Engineering: Virtualization and Coordination

Contents
Preface.................................................................................................................ix
Acknowledgments...............................................................................................xi
1 Introduction............................................................................................1
2 Coordination Theory...............................................................................7
Perspectives...................................................................................................8
Theory and Philosophy...............................................................................16
3 Logic of Virtuality.................................................................................21
Organizational Logics.................................................................................23
Virtual Logic..............................................................................................26
4 Materiality of Technology.....................................................................33
Materiality of GSS and GSE Coordination................................................ 40
5 Management of Information.................................................................47
Information Management and GSE............................................................52
6 Exploitation of Geography....................................................................65
Geography and ICT....................................................................................67
Geography and GSE Coordination.............................................................72
7 Paradox of Organization.......................................................................83
8 Virtuality of Coordination....................................................................95
Dialectics and GSE Coordination...............................................................99
9 Illustration of Coordination................................................................113
Illustration of Coordination by Plans........................................................ 117
Illustration of Coordination by Mutual Adjustments................................ 119
Illustration of Coordination by ICTs........................................................122
10 Reflections...........................................................................................135
Appendix .....................................................................................................145
Notes............................................................................................................149
Index............................................................................................................177

Preface
That technology and organization co-evolve is not a reality and theory that are in question. For there is no doubt that the organization of human activities has been a reflection of technological innovation, change, and use, and vice versa. A typical instance is the coordination of global software engineering (GSE) – an information and communication technology (ICT) innovation underpinned by a preponderance of ICT systems in a globally distributed organizational mode. As technology preponderance enables GSE, organization leads to enhanced technological innovation. Hence, it is strange that the written record on this co-evolution in GSE only addresses organization at the expense of technology.

Organization has been addressed overwhelmingly in GSE coordination through its longstanding logics of rationality (i.e., the efficiency ethos, mechanical methods, and mathematical analysis) and indeterminacy (i.e., effectiveness ethos, natural methods, and functional analysis). The endurance of these logics through the years seems to have generated the illusion that existing literature on GSE can provide us with adequate accounts of the coordination role of ICT. But GSE itself is an organizational mode that is technology-begotten, technologydominated, and technology-driven – likewise its coordination. It is a direct reflection of ICT innovation, change, and use, yet technology has not yet been made to speak to it. Organizational speech alone therefore distorts the story of co-evolution. Consequently, we currently have low technology explanations and/or fragmented explanations of GSE coordination (via ICT, organization, geography, and information perspectives).

This book addresses technology in GSE coordination as an attempt to balance the story. Thus, I present a different analysis of how and why ICT is implicated in this coordination. I have taken a technological view of GSE coordination, considered the existing fragmented explanations and perspectives, asked new questions about them, and found that technology speaks better through the logic of virtuality (i.e., creativity ethos, electrical methods, and technological analysis) than rationality and indeterminacy. The book proposes this logic as the primary and most appropriate approach for a comprehensive study of GSE coordination. Then it presents a technological and integrated explanation of GSE coordination with the core argument that this coordination is achieved through ICT connectivity and capitalization.

Introduction
By virtue of innovation and the ubiquity of information and communication technology (ICT), global distribution of software development resources and activities has emerged as a global virtual work configuration – labeled as global software engineering (GSE). ICT is the main enabler of this configuration because of its power and promise to reduce spatial, temporal, and structural barriers. In organizations where this promise has been fulfilled fully or to a significant degree, they enjoy advantages such as cost reduction, access to global pools of expertise, formulation of global virtual teams, and closer-to-market and round-the-clock development. Eric Overby’s process virtualization theory1 suggests that ICT is the predominant resource that enables organizations to virtualize teamwork configurations and processes across global spaces, time, and structures. The theory assumes that once technology can remove time and space barriers to enable process participation and when technology can authenticate the people participating in the process and track their activities, then, given the absence of the dependent variables, organizations will seek to achieve processes virtualization.

Virtualization in the global context (hereafter, virtuality or virtualization) therefore describes how ICT, in combination with and in transformation of space, place, and other organizational resources, enables spanning of discontinuities between geography, time, organization, culture, and work practices. Yet virtuality is at the same time confronted by the reality of geographic dispersion, electronic dependence, structural dynamism, and national diversity that may hinder team effectiveness in this configuration. Thus, in spite of the advantages provided by technology enablement in GSE, there are theoretical and practical problems of coordination in this work configuration.

Coordination is the management of dependencies, uncertainties, and conflicts between people and activities. Dependency is a goal-relevant relationship between two or more people or tasks in which a task cannot begin or be completed until another one has occurred, begun, or completed. Uncertainty refers to incomplete information about an organizational phenomenon that makes it difficult to predict its behavior accurately. Conflict exists when people involved in task performance hold discrepant views or have interpersonal incompatibilities.

Coordination is a fundamental problem for collocated organizations, but the problem is escalated in the globally distributed organizational context because of issues such as cultural and national diversity of developers, erratic information exchanges, mutual knowledge problems, politics, increased uncertainties, geographical distance, and technological limitations. The issues are more pronounced in GSE, and they undermine the management of dependencies, uncertainties, and conflicts to increase the difficulty of coordination. Given that the difficulty of coordination increases with project size and complexity,2 the escalated problem of GSE coordination is very real in its theoretical and practical dimensions. Yet the continuous organization of GSE around the world is testament to adequate coordination practice by global software teams in the face of virtualization.

Both the escalated problem of coordination and how organizations achieve coordination are quite perplexing for improving coordination theory. The perplexity has generated high research interest among scholars, especially in information systems and organization studies research streams. The outcomes of this interest are four separate theoretical perspectives on (or approaches to) GSE coordination – technology, information, geography, and organization – developed to complement extant coordination theory and to inform and guide research and management.

Unfortunately, researchers’ particular or separate foci on these perspectives have resulted in fragmented and, hence, inadequate, explanations of coordination in existing publications. Fragmented explanations betray the low development of GSE coordination theory that has left us with low understanding of the relationships between these perspectives. Yet the practice of GSE around the world suggests clearly that technology, information, geography, and organization interrelate to provide organizations with cost, access, market, teamwork, and development advantages. This disparity between coordination practice and theory constitutes a significant theoretical gap that this book attempts to fill.

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