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The Software Engineering Impacts of Cultural Factors on Multi-cultural Software Development Teams. By Greg Borchers 25th International Conference on Software Engineering, 2003 p540-548 Poster by: Olman Hernández. January 17 th , 2005. Executive Summary.

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The Software Engineering Impacts of Cultural Factors on Multi-cultural Software Development Teams.ByGreg Borchers25th International Conference on Software Engineering, 2003 p540-548Poster by:Olman Hernández

January 17th, 2005

executive summary
Executive Summary
  • Paper describes the observations of how some cultural factors impacted the software engineering practices implemented on a global development project.
  • Cultural factors utilized in the paper are defined by Geert Hofstede in his book “Culture’s Consequences”.
  • Power Distance Index
  • Uncertainty Avoidance Index
  • Individualism Index
  • Author recognizes that rigorous software processes CANNOT overcome the power of the cultural layer.
  • The overall recommendations are :
  • To be culturally aware
  • Adapt and adjust the expectations to the realities of cultural impacts
  • Study is based on 2 separate development projects over a 4 year span
  • Project team was globally dispersed
  • Japan – Parent Company
  • US – Research Lab leading the projects
  • India – Development groups both internally and external vendor
  • Author served as technical lead and PM roles in different phases on both projects
  • Based on the work of Geert Hofstede
  • Industrial Psychologist at IBM
  • Study based on data from over 100,000 surveys in 40 countries
  • Looks at attitude of people towards their jobs along numerous dimensions of culture
  • Dimensions expressed in terms of indexes
power distance pdi
Power Distance (PDI)
  • India 77 Japan 54 U.S.A 40
  • Identifies the way in which people think about equality and relationships with superiors and subordinates.
  • Low values of PDI - there is little or no distinction among hierarchy of an organization. Individuals are almost expected to raise concerns and express their own opinion
  • High values of PDI - the boss has great authority over subordinates. Superiors issue directives and expect subordinates to follow
  • This becomes an issue when utilizing a management approach “team of respected peers” where push back on issues is expected
  • Conflict about expectations of leadership
  • Recommendation: software project leadership be dispersed and each location have their local leaders
uncertainty avoidance uai
Uncertainty Avoidance (UAI)
  • Japan 92 U.S.A 46 India 40
  • Explores people’s attitudes towards tolerance for uncertainty about the future, risky situations, ambiguity, and control.
  • Low index culture are more risk takers, embrace change, more accepting of new ideas
  • High index culture try to reduce uncertainty through coping mechanisms like rigorous adherence to waterfall model, restrictive change control, wider consensus, and elaborate process to contemplate all possibilities.
  • Impacted design, analysis, documentation, up-front planning, project management and tracking
  • Recommendation: help avoid uncertainty through the use of prototyping; utilize detailed tracking and reporting mechanisms
individualism idv
Individualism (IDV)
  • U.S.A 91 India 48 Japan 46
  • Focus on the perception of individualism versus collectivist.
  • Low index cultures - the welfare of the group is above the individual
  • High index cultures - people are primarily concerned about personal achievement, ambition, expect to have their own opinions
  • Influence the formation and continuance of teams.
  • Impacts the ability to form strong bonds among members and act cohesively, creates “Star performers”
  • Single out an individual performance may have big impact on team depending on the index.
  • Recommendation: Be aware of cultural differences during performances reviews
areas impacted by culture
Areas impacted by culture
  • Software Architecture
  • May be culturally influenced
  • Design approach varies
  • Example on how abstractions are chosen
  • Configuration Management
  • Value on having centralized configuration management with public announcements.
  • Work structure can be defined by boundaries but will become issue when type of work crosses these boundaries like in performance tuning, bug fixing, integration.
paper critique
Paper Critique
  • Strength
  • - Recognition that there is a cultural factor that impacts development projects
  • - Recommendations are valuable and should be explored
  • - The author is not trying to stereotype individuals
  • Weaknesses
  • - Lack of description of the behaviors and problems confronted in order to validate the conclusions
  • - Author seems to ignore other factors such as communication, organizational culture, team culture, and professional culture
  • -Problem can also be cause by different levels of Process Maturity across sites and organizations
  • 1-Briefly define the 3 cultural factors described on the paper?
  • 2-What are some of the areas impacted by the cultural factors?
  • 3-Do cultural differences affect software professionals?