Improvisation during Process-Technology Adoption: A Longitudinal Study of a Software Firm

Gitte Tjørnehøj, Lars Mathiassen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Most software firms struggle to take advantage of the potential benefits of software process improvement (SPI) as they adopt this technology into the complex and dynamic realities of their day-to-day operation. Such efforts are therefore typically fluctuating between management's attempt to control SPI technology adoption and events that causes the process to drift in unpredictable directions. To further understand how management's attempt to control the process is complemented by drifting, this article investigates the role of improvisation in adoption of SPI technology in a Danish software firm, SmallSoft, over a 10-year period (1996–2005). We found that micro-level and macro-level improvisations interacted, often in uncoordinated ways, to shape SPI technology adoption at SmallSoft. The improvisations enhanced employee creativity, motivation and empowerment, created momentum in the adoption process despite constrained resources, and, most importantly, helped adapt SPI technology to the everyday practices at SmallSoft. However, we also identified un-called for improvisations and outcomes that were uncoordinated with SmallSoft's goals. Based on these findings we discuss how management in small software firms can exploit improvisations to facilitate adoption of complex technologies like SPI.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Information Technology
Volume25
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)20-34
ISSN0268-3962
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Fingerprint

spontaneity
longitudinal study
firm
management
Macros
software
Process technology
Software process improvement
Improvisation
Technology adoption
Longitudinal study
Software
Momentum
Personnel
macro level
micro level
creativity
empowerment
employee

Keywords

  • Technology Adoption, Software Process Improvement, Improvisation

Cite this

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title = "Improvisation during Process-Technology Adoption: A Longitudinal Study of a Software Firm",
abstract = "Most software firms struggle to take advantage of the potential benefits of software process improvement (SPI) as they adopt this technology into the complex and dynamic realities of their day-to-day operation. Such efforts are therefore typically fluctuating between management's attempt to control SPI technology adoption and events that causes the process to drift in unpredictable directions. To further understand how management's attempt to control the process is complemented by drifting, this article investigates the role of improvisation in adoption of SPI technology in a Danish software firm, SmallSoft, over a 10-year period (1996–2005). We found that micro-level and macro-level improvisations interacted, often in uncoordinated ways, to shape SPI technology adoption at SmallSoft. The improvisations enhanced employee creativity, motivation and empowerment, created momentum in the adoption process despite constrained resources, and, most importantly, helped adapt SPI technology to the everyday practices at SmallSoft. However, we also identified un-called for improvisations and outcomes that were uncoordinated with SmallSoft's goals. Based on these findings we discuss how management in small software firms can exploit improvisations to facilitate adoption of complex technologies like SPI.",
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Improvisation during Process-Technology Adoption : A Longitudinal Study of a Software Firm. / Tjørnehøj, Gitte; Mathiassen, Lars.

In: Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2010, p. 20-34.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Improvisation during Process-Technology Adoption

T2 - A Longitudinal Study of a Software Firm

AU - Tjørnehøj, Gitte

AU - Mathiassen, Lars

PY - 2010

Y1 - 2010

N2 - Most software firms struggle to take advantage of the potential benefits of software process improvement (SPI) as they adopt this technology into the complex and dynamic realities of their day-to-day operation. Such efforts are therefore typically fluctuating between management's attempt to control SPI technology adoption and events that causes the process to drift in unpredictable directions. To further understand how management's attempt to control the process is complemented by drifting, this article investigates the role of improvisation in adoption of SPI technology in a Danish software firm, SmallSoft, over a 10-year period (1996–2005). We found that micro-level and macro-level improvisations interacted, often in uncoordinated ways, to shape SPI technology adoption at SmallSoft. The improvisations enhanced employee creativity, motivation and empowerment, created momentum in the adoption process despite constrained resources, and, most importantly, helped adapt SPI technology to the everyday practices at SmallSoft. However, we also identified un-called for improvisations and outcomes that were uncoordinated with SmallSoft's goals. Based on these findings we discuss how management in small software firms can exploit improvisations to facilitate adoption of complex technologies like SPI.

AB - Most software firms struggle to take advantage of the potential benefits of software process improvement (SPI) as they adopt this technology into the complex and dynamic realities of their day-to-day operation. Such efforts are therefore typically fluctuating between management's attempt to control SPI technology adoption and events that causes the process to drift in unpredictable directions. To further understand how management's attempt to control the process is complemented by drifting, this article investigates the role of improvisation in adoption of SPI technology in a Danish software firm, SmallSoft, over a 10-year period (1996–2005). We found that micro-level and macro-level improvisations interacted, often in uncoordinated ways, to shape SPI technology adoption at SmallSoft. The improvisations enhanced employee creativity, motivation and empowerment, created momentum in the adoption process despite constrained resources, and, most importantly, helped adapt SPI technology to the everyday practices at SmallSoft. However, we also identified un-called for improvisations and outcomes that were uncoordinated with SmallSoft's goals. Based on these findings we discuss how management in small software firms can exploit improvisations to facilitate adoption of complex technologies like SPI.

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