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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Technical Report: Leveraging expertise in global software teams: Going outside boundaries

Leveraging expertise in global software teams: Going outside boundaries

Technical Report #:06-04
Author(s): Kate Ehrlich, Klarissa Chang
Full Citation:Presented at ICGSE (International Conference on Global Software Engineering) October 2006.


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In order to take advantage of lower costs and wider availability of talent, managers often staff software development projects globally. While this practice may be economically appealing there are often hidden costs. This paper reports the results of a study that used social network analysis to study how people in three global software teams acquired and used available expertise through communication and acquisition strategies. We found that frequency of communication was associated with awareness and familiarity of the other person especially awareness of the person’s current work. When it came to acquiring information, members of these teams were more likely to seek specific technical information or administrative help from people outside their software team. People use others on their team with whom they have strong ties to exploit preexisting knowledge but they go to people they know uniquely outside the team for innovative ideas. We discuss the implications of these results for tools that encourage transparent work and for work and management practices.

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