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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Shared understanding and the effects of culture in the global software development team : a case study Hsieh, Yvonne Ying-Fan


This thesis describes a qualitative case study whose goal is to characterize certain aspects of shared understanding among members of a globally distributed software development team. The research questions upon which the study is based investigate the effects of intercultural differences on the development of shared understanding in the team. Specifically, the study examines the developers' shared understanding with respect to the development processes and practices, system requirements, technical details, project scheduling, resource management, and a number of other task- and team-related issues. With regard to intercultural differences, the study focuses on the concepts of risks, hierarchy, time, and teamwork, expression of emotion, and communication patterns. The study data is collected through semi-structured interviews and analyzed using a constant-comparison approach. The findings, summarized as a set of propositions, show that intercultural differences, along with other contextual factors (i.e., communication mechanisms and project arrangement) do affect shared understanding in the distributed team. The work described in the thesis helps to provide insight into the coordination and management of distributed software projects, as well as to further an area of research where little previous work has been done.

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