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    ARTOS – Artikulationsarbeit in Offshoringprojekten kleiner und mittlerer Unternehmen der Software-Branche

    Laufzeit: 2008-2010

    Förderung: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

    Ansprechpartner: Alexander Boden M.A.

    Offshore-Outsourcing – kurz Offshoring – hat sich in den letzten Jahren als wichtige Geschäftsstrategie deutscher kleiner und mittelständischer Unternehmen (KMU) der Software-Branche etabliert. Die Forschung zu Offshoring von Softwareentwicklung beschäftigt sich bisher vor allem mit Großunternehmen und Fragen der Standardisierung und Formalisierung der Geschäfts- und Softwareentwicklungsprozesse. Aufgrund ihrer geringen Größe und der oft auf starke Kundenbindung ausgerichteten Geschäftsmodelle setzen KMU jedoch häufig auf einen sehr flexiblen und informellen Umgang mit Koordinationsmechanismen, Arbeitsteilung und Hierarchien. Die damit einhergehende Agilität ist dabei ein wichtiger Wettbewerbsvorteil insbesondere gegenüber größeren Konkurrenten.

    Die Aufrechterhaltung von Flexibilität und Kundenbindung unter den Bedingungen des Offshorings stellt KMU vor große Herausforderungen: Zu den üblichen Problemen verteilter Kooperation kommen hier insbesondere solche hinsichtlich zeitlich-räumlicher sowie kulturell-sprachlicher Differenzen hinzu. Agile Entwicklungsmethoden basieren wesentlich auf intensiver Kommunikation und Team-Interaktion und sind daher von den mit Offshoring einhergehenden Problemen besonders stark betroffen. Angesichts hoher Komplexität der Projektkoordination und geringer finanzieller Spielräume laufen KMU Gefahr, durch Offshoring hohe Risiken einzugehen und wichtige Wettbewerbsvorteile einzubüßen. Gleichzeitig fehlen derzeit gesicherte Erkenntnisse darüber, wie KMU auf die Herausforderungen des Offshorings reagieren und wie Unternehmen bei der flexiblen Umsetzung verteilter Softwareentwicklungsprojekte technisch besser unterstützt werden können.

    Um die spezifischen Anforderungen kleiner und mittelständischer Unternehmen besser verstehen zu können, sollen mittels empirischer ethnographischer Methoden explorative Fallstudien in mehreren deutschen KMU erhoben werden. Bei der Analyse des Offshorings fokussiert das Projekt insbesondere auf die Rolle von Articulation Work (Artikulationsarbeit) im Sinne des soziologischen Rahmenwerks von Anselm Strauss. Artikulationsarbeit beschreibt unterschiedliche Formen informeller Ad-hoc-Koordination auf der Mitarbeiterebene, die für die flexible Abwicklung von Offshoringprojekten deutscher KMU von großer Bedeutung sein dürften. Besondere Schwerpunkte sollen dabei zudem auf dem Verhältnis von informeller Artikulationsarbeit zu formalen Formen von Koordination sowie der Rolle von Artefakten und Medien liegen.

    Die Forschungsmethodik des Projekts konzentriert sich besonders auf teilnehmende Beobachtung der Arbeitspraktiken von Softwareentwicklern in der Praxis des Offshorings. Durch die ergänzende Berücksichtigung von Interviews und die Auswertung von Artefakten wie Log-Files soll im Rahmen der Studie ein detailliertes Bild der Praxis deutscher KMU beim Offshoring gezeichnet werden. Die gewonnenen Erkenntnisse können zudem für die Entwicklung von Software genutzt werden, die deutsche KMU bei der Abwicklung globaler Entwicklungsprojekte besser unterstützt.

    Weitere Informationen unter www.artos.uni-siegen.de

    Publikationen

    2009


    • Boden, A., Nett, B. & Wulf, V. (2009)Operational and Strategic Learning in Global Software Development – Implications from two Offshoring Case Studies in Small Enterprises

      IN IEEE Software, Pages: 1–15 doi:10.1109/MS.2009.153
      [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF]

      Small to medium-sized software enterprises (SME) increasingly participate in offshoring activities. Detecting market niches and deploying highly flexible software development approaches are seen as key competitive abilities of SME. Therefore, it is of major importance to learn how offshoring affects these capabilities which are closely related to organizational learning. We present case studies from two German companies that engage in offshoring of software development. By comparing the cases with each other, we highlight the different structures the companies chose for their development work and how these structures were enacted in practice. Furthermore, we show how related practices affect strategic and operational aspects of Argyris et al.’s (1985) conception of single- and double-loop learning. Our case studies show that organizational learning is a problem for SME engaged in offshoring and that an inability for double-loop learning can even lead to failures in case of organizational restructuring.

      @article{boden_operational_2009,
      title = {Operational and {Strategic} {Learning} in {Global} {Software} {Development} - {Implications} from two {Offshoring} {Case} {Studies} in {Small} {Enterprises}},
      issn = {0740-7459},
      url = {http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/lpdocs/epic03/wrapper.htm?arnumber=5232803},
      doi = {10.1109/MS.2009.153},
      abstract = {Small to medium-sized software enterprises (SME) increasingly participate in offshoring activities. Detecting market niches and deploying highly flexible software development approaches are seen as key competitive abilities of SME. Therefore, it is of major importance to learn how offshoring affects these capabilities which are closely related to organizational learning. We present case studies from two German companies that engage in offshoring of software development. By comparing the cases with each other, we highlight the different structures the companies chose for their development work and how these structures were enacted in practice. Furthermore, we show how related practices affect strategic and operational aspects of Argyris et al.'s (1985) conception of single- and double-loop learning. Our case studies show that organizational learning is a problem for SME engaged in offshoring and that an inability for double-loop learning can even lead to failures in case of organizational restructuring.},
      journal = {IEEE Software},
      author = {Boden, Alexander and Nett, Bernhard and Wulf, Volker},
      year = {2009},
      keywords = {Artos},
      pages = {1--15},
      }


    • Boden, A., Avram, G., Bannon, L. & Wulf, V. (2009)Knowledge Management in Distributed Software Development Teams – Does Culture Matter?

      IN 2009 Fourth IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering, Pages: 18–27 doi:10.1109/ICGSE.2009.10
      [BibTeX] [Abstract]

      Software development requires complex context specific knowledge regarding the particularities of different technologies, the potential of existing software and the needs and expectations of the users. Hence, efficient knowledge management counts amongst the most important challenges for software teams. In international teams, one of the most important issues regarding knowledge sharing is the impact of culture under different aspects: national, organizational and professional. There seem to be very few studies dealing with the issue of culture in regard to knowledge management practices in GSE. We want to contribute to the discussion by presenting case studies of small size software teams dealing with international software development in the context of offshoring. In doing so, we illustrate how cultural and social issues influence the way knowledge exchange is performed by analyzing several knowledge management practices, considering the role of meetings, artifacts and tools, knowledge brokers and mutual visits between sites.

      @article{boden_knowledge_2009,
      title = {Knowledge {Management} in {Distributed} {Software} {Development} {Teams} - {Does} {Culture} {Matter}?},
      doi = {10.1109/ICGSE.2009.10},
      abstract = {Software development requires complex context specific knowledge regarding the particularities of different technologies, the potential of existing software and the needs and expectations of the users. Hence, efficient knowledge management counts amongst the most important challenges for software teams. In international teams, one of the most important issues regarding knowledge sharing is the impact of culture under different aspects: national, organizational and professional. There seem to be very few studies dealing with the issue of culture in regard to knowledge management practices in GSE. We want to contribute to the discussion by presenting case studies of small size software teams dealing with international software development in the context of offshoring. In doing so, we illustrate how cultural and social issues influence the way knowledge exchange is performed by analyzing several knowledge management practices, considering the role of meetings, artifacts and tools, knowledge brokers and mutual visits between sites.},
      journal = {2009 Fourth IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering},
      author = {Boden, Alexander and Avram, Gabriela and Bannon, Liam and Wulf, Volker},
      year = {2009},
      keywords = {Artos},
      pages = {18--27},
      }


    • Boden, A. & Nett, B. (2009)Trust and social capital: Revisiting an offshoring failure story of a small German software company

      IN 2009 Europaean Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW), Pages: 123–142 doi:10.1007/978-1-84882-854-4_7
      [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF]

      While work organization and social capital are known to be important factors for offshoring success, there is little empirical evidence on how these aspects evolve in the course of offshoring projects. In the literature, trust has been discussed as a personal disposition to abstain from control in a given situation, and was found to remain surprisingly stable in some cases. By analyzing the relation between control and trust in the course of a failed offshoring project, we want to add to the discussion on social capital as a factor for successful offshoring. The results of our long-term ethnographic study are somewhat paradox: in our case, ongoing conflicts motivated attempts to strengthen control, although personal trust and social capital remained strong. Despite the fact that the confidence of the partners in their offshoring project was weakened over time, the trust among the partners prevailed. However, social capital was not only unable to save the offshoring project—it also seemed to hinder the conflict resolution in some regards. Therefore, we argue that while social capital is an important factor, it should not be regarded as a context-free asset, but rather (in Bourdieus perspective) as a risky investment.

      @article{boden_trust_2009,
      title = {Trust and social capital: {Revisiting} an offshoring failure story of a small {German} software company},
      url = {http://www.springerlink.com/index/M217N5717666163L.pdf},
      doi = {10.1007/978-1-84882-854-4_7},
      abstract = {While work organization and social capital are known to be important factors for offshoring success, there is little empirical evidence on how these aspects evolve in the course of offshoring projects. In the literature, trust has been discussed as a personal disposition to abstain from control in a given situation, and was found to remain surprisingly stable in some cases. By analyzing the relation between control and trust in the course of a failed offshoring project, we want to add to the discussion on social capital as a factor for successful offshoring. The results of our long-term ethnographic study are somewhat paradox: in our case, ongoing conflicts motivated attempts to strengthen control, although personal trust and social capital remained strong. Despite the fact that the confidence of the partners in their offshoring project was weakened over time, the trust among the partners prevailed. However, social capital was not only unable to save the offshoring project—it also seemed to hinder the conflict resolution in some regards. Therefore, we argue that while social capital is an important factor, it should not be regarded as a context-free asset, but rather (in Bourdieus perspective) as a risky investment.},
      number = {September},
      journal = {2009 Europaean Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW)},
      author = {Boden, Alexander and Nett, Bernhard},
      year = {2009},
      keywords = {Artos},
      pages = {123--142},
      }


    • Boden, A. & Avram, G. (2009)Bridging Knowledge Distribution-The Role of Knowledge Brokers in Distributed Software Development Teams

      IN 2009 ICSE Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects on Software Engineering, CHASE 2009 (2009), Pages: 8–11 doi:10.1109/CHASE.2009.5071402
      [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF]

      Software development requires the handling of complex and context specific knowledge to be successful. Hence, efficient knowledge management (KM) counts amongst the most important challenges for any software project, but especially for small enterprises working with distributed teams. One important topic for KM in distributed teams is the role of bridges enacted by people who become boundary spanners and facilitate the exchange of knowledge between the sites. In our paper we present empirical findings related to such bridges in the context of two small companies with offshore sites. In doing so, we concentrate on the particular roles these knowledge brokers play in the distributed development practices. We show how small software companies rely on the commitment of particular team members and informal knowledge management practices. The paper concludes with a number of open questions to be addressed by future studies.

      @article{boden_bridging_2009,
      title = {Bridging {Knowledge} {Distribution}-{The} {Role} of {Knowledge} {Brokers} in {Distributed} {Software} {Development} {Teams}},
      url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/CHASE.2009.5071402%5Cnhttp://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpls/abs_all.jsp?arnumber=5071402},
      doi = {10.1109/CHASE.2009.5071402},
      abstract = {Software development requires the handling of complex and context specific knowledge to be successful. Hence, efficient knowledge management (KM) counts amongst the most important challenges for any software project, but especially for small enterprises working with distributed teams. One important topic for KM in distributed teams is the role of bridges enacted by people who become boundary spanners and facilitate the exchange of knowledge between the sites. In our paper we present empirical findings related to such bridges in the context of two small companies with offshore sites. In doing so, we concentrate on the particular roles these knowledge brokers play in the distributed development practices. We show how small software companies rely on the commitment of particular team members and informal knowledge management practices. The paper concludes with a number of open questions to be addressed by future studies.},
      journal = {2009 ICSE Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects on Software Engineering, CHASE 2009 (2009)},
      author = {Boden, Alexander and Avram, Gabriela},
      year = {2009},
      keywords = {Artos},
      pages = {8--11},
      }


    • Nett, B., Boden, A. & Müller, C. (2009)Business Ethnography als ethnografische Gestaltungsperspektive

      IN Kultur-Forschung. Zum Profil einer volkskundlichen Kulturwissenschaft Münster
      [BibTeX]

      @incollection{nett_business_2009,
      address = {Münster},
      title = {Business {Ethnography} als ethnografische {Gestaltungsperspektive}},
      booktitle = {Kultur-{Forschung}. {Zum} {Profil} einer volkskundlichen {Kulturwissenschaft}},
      publisher = {Lit},
      author = {Nett, Bernhard and Boden, Alexander and Müller, Claudia},
      year = {2009},
      keywords = {Artos, italg},
      pages = {111--131},
      }


    • Nett, B., Boden, A. & Wulf, V. (2009)Offshoring in kleinen und mittleren Unternehmen der Softwareindustrie

      IN HMD. Praxis der Wirtschaftsinformatik, Vol. 265, Pages: 92–100
      [BibTeX] [Abstract]

      Um ihre Wettbewerbsvorteile nicht zu verlieren, sind kleine und mittlere Unternehmen (KMU) der Softwareindustrie beim Offshoring auf ein hohes Maß an Flexibilität angewiesen. Die häufig für Offshoring empfohlene Formalisierung der Softwareentwicklung ist daher für KMU nur mit Einschränkungen möglich. Um die praxis-relevanten Probleme deutscher KMU im Kontext von Offshoring besser zu verstehen, untersuchen wir diese mittels qualitativer empirischer Forschungsmethoden. Wir zeigen anhand einer Einzelfallstudie, dass KMU im Rahmen von Offshoring häufig gezwungen sind, ihren Offshore-Entwicklern mehr Autonomie einzuräumen, als ursprünglich gewünscht wurde. Die geografische Verteilung von Kompetenz und Wissen erfordert dabei ständige informelle Abstimmungsprozesse zwischen den Teams. Diese sogenannte Artikulationsarbeit kann – als Pendant zu formellen Formen von Koordination – offenbar durch formale Koordinationswerkzeuge (etwa Fehlerdatenbanken) unterstützt, aber nicht ersetzt werden. Für KMU der Softwareindustrie kann es daher beim Offshoring notwendig sein, auf ein synergetisches Verhältnis zwischen formeller Koordination und informeller Artikulationsarbeit zu achten, statt die Entwicklung einseitig zu formalisieren.

      @article{nett_offshoring_2009,
      title = {Offshoring in kleinen und mittleren {Unternehmen} der {Softwareindustrie}},
      volume = {265},
      abstract = {Um ihre Wettbewerbsvorteile nicht zu verlieren, sind kleine und mittlere Unternehmen (KMU) der Softwareindustrie beim Offshoring auf ein hohes Maß an Flexibilität angewiesen. Die häufig für Offshoring empfohlene Formalisierung der Softwareentwicklung ist daher für KMU nur mit Einschränkungen möglich. Um die praxis-relevanten Probleme deutscher KMU im Kontext von Offshoring besser zu verstehen, untersuchen wir diese mittels qualitativer empirischer Forschungsmethoden. Wir zeigen anhand einer Einzelfallstudie, dass KMU im Rahmen von Offshoring häufig gezwungen sind, ihren Offshore-Entwicklern mehr Autonomie einzuräumen, als ursprünglich gewünscht wurde. Die geografische Verteilung von Kompetenz und Wissen erfordert dabei ständige informelle Abstimmungsprozesse zwischen den Teams. Diese sogenannte Artikulationsarbeit kann - als Pendant zu formellen Formen von Koordination - offenbar durch formale Koordinationswerkzeuge (etwa Fehlerdatenbanken) unterstützt, aber nicht ersetzt werden. Für KMU der Softwareindustrie kann es daher beim Offshoring notwendig sein, auf ein synergetisches Verhältnis zwischen formeller Koordination und informeller Artikulationsarbeit zu achten, statt die Entwicklung einseitig zu formalisieren.},
      journal = {HMD. Praxis der Wirtschaftsinformatik},
      author = {Nett, Bernhard and Boden, Alexander and Wulf, Volker},
      year = {2009},
      keywords = {Artos},
      pages = {92--100},
      }

    2008


    • Boden, A., Nett, B. & Wulf, V. (2008)Articulation work in small-scale offshore software development projects

      IN Proceedings of the 2008 international workshop on Cooperative and human aspects of software engineering – CHASE ’08, Pages: 21–24 doi:10.1145/1370114.1370120
      [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF]

      The paper describes coordination practices of small and medium enterprises (SME) that outsourced parts of their software development to offshore vendors. Our case study in a German company shows that the geographic distribution of knowledge and expertise requires continuous informal coordination across the teams. Such practices can be described as a combination of formal coordination and informal articulation work in the sense of Anselm Strauss‘ theoretical framework. Both are closely interwoven and connected to the use of media such as coordination tools and instant messengers. We conclude that SME risk losing their core competencies when neglecting articulation work and hint at mismatches between scientific recommendations and actual development practices of SME.

      @article{boden_articulation_2008,
      title = {Articulation work in small-scale offshore software development projects},
      issn = {02705257},
      url = {http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=1370114.1370120},
      doi = {10.1145/1370114.1370120},
      abstract = {The paper describes coordination practices of small and medium enterprises (SME) that outsourced parts of their software development to offshore vendors. Our case study in a German company shows that the geographic distribution of knowledge and expertise requires continuous informal coordination across the teams. Such practices can be described as a combination of formal coordination and informal articulation work in the sense of Anselm Strauss' theoretical framework. Both are closely interwoven and connected to the use of media such as coordination tools and instant messengers. We conclude that SME risk losing their core competencies when neglecting articulation work and hint at mismatches between scientific recommendations and actual development practices of SME.},
      journal = {Proceedings of the 2008 international workshop on Cooperative and human aspects of software engineering - CHASE '08},
      author = {Boden, Alexander and Nett, Bernhard and Wulf, Volker},
      year = {2008},
      keywords = {cscw, Artos, ethnography, articulation work, coordination, nearshoring, offshoring, sme},
      pages = {21--24},
      }

    2007


    • Boden, A., Nett, B. & Wulf, V. (2007)Coordination Practices in Distributed Software Development of Small Enterprises

      IN International Conference on Global Software Engineering(ICGSE 2007), Pages: 235–246 doi:10.1109/ICGSE.2007.18
      [BibTeX] [Abstract] [Download PDF]

      Global software development has become an important issue for small and medium enterprises. However, the distinct requirements of SME are still not so well understood. In order to contribute to the discussion we present case studies in two small German software companies that engage in offshoring of software development to Eastern Europe. By applying Strauss‘ articulation work framework we show to what extent SME rely upon situated coordination practices in order to warrant their agility. These practices are applied during discussions in which the actors reflexively evolve problems and solutions from their distinct perspectives and work practices. Thereby they are closely related to formal and informal communication, which takes place both locally and between the different teams. Our findings further suggest that specialized tools for the support of situated coordination practices in terms of articulation work are not so common in practice.

      @article{boden_coordination_2007,
      title = {Coordination {Practices} in {Distributed} {Software} {Development} of {Small} {Enterprises}},
      url = {10.1109/ICGSE.2007.18},
      doi = {10.1109/ICGSE.2007.18},
      abstract = {Global software development has become an important issue for small and medium enterprises. However, the distinct requirements of SME are still not so well understood. In order to contribute to the discussion we present case studies in two small German software companies that engage in offshoring of software development to Eastern Europe. By applying Strauss' articulation work framework we show to what extent SME rely upon situated coordination practices in order to warrant their agility. These practices are applied during discussions in which the actors reflexively evolve problems and solutions from their distinct perspectives and work practices. Thereby they are closely related to formal and informal communication, which takes place both locally and between the different teams. Our findings further suggest that specialized tools for the support of situated coordination practices in terms of articulation work are not so common in practice.},
      number = {Icgse},
      journal = {International Conference on Global Software Engineering(ICGSE 2007)},
      author = {Boden, Alexander and Nett, Bernhard and Wulf, Volker},
      year = {2007},
      keywords = {Artos, distributed software development, German software company, groupware, small-medium enterprise, small-to-medium enterprises, software development management, Strauss articulation work},
      pages = {235--246},
      }