Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Toward Adaptive Stage Development in Software Scrum Teams
by Taborga, Jorge, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2018, 355; 10930703
Abstract (Summary)

Over the last 70 years, teams have become the ubiquitous unit of work in our organizations. The software industry heavily utilizes the Scrum methodology to develop software. Scrum is a team-based methodology that requires the constant formation and development of team capabilities. Researchers and practitioners dealing with work team dynamics have relied on the popular team developmental stages of forming, storming, norming, and performing, defined by Dr. Bruce Tuckman in 1965. However, this framework was conceived primarily from articles dealing with therapy groups and not modern teams. This study expands the body of research in work team stage development applied to Scrum, a methodology that itself has no social science foundation and minimal theoretical coverage.

A combined case study and grounded theory method is used to leverage the strengths of both to investigate the developmental stage of 5 Scrum teams at a high-tech company. A questionnaire along with team interviews were utilized to gather data on how teams relate to developmental factors found in the literature. Descriptive analytics were leveraged to uncover the questionnaire findings, and grounded theory analysis was applied to code interview answers into usable concepts, categories, and themes. Themes were further explored concerning their causal relationships.

The study proposed and validated 12 theoretical factors that contribute to the stage development of Scrum teams across 4 distinct stages. These factors interconnect and form 4 quadrants with unique dynamics associated with a team’s mission, structure, execution, and teaming. Furthermore, higher stage teams proved to be self-managed and adaptable and able to handle higher task complexity. Leaders were observed shifting roles as teams evolved through stages. This latter finding is consistent with the theoretical model of Kozlowski, Watola, Jensen, Kim, and Botero. The research also identified common challenges that teams encounter in their development.

The findings from this study can help organizations who practice Scrum become more intentional about the development of their teams toward adaptability. A concerted effort by software organizations to optimize the evolution of teams across the factors found in the study could yield significant benefits, particularly for missions dealing with high complexity and innovation needs.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Southern, Nancy L.
Commitee: Piazza, Charles F., Walton, Doug
School: Saybrook University
Department: Organizational Systems
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Organization Theory, Organizational behavior, Systems science
Keywords: Scrum, Stage development, Team development, Team maturity, Teams, Work teams
Publication Number: 10930703
ISBN: 9780438488892
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