2013 CHASE - Motivation of Software Engineers: A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation

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Motivation of Software Engineers: A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation
A. César C. França, Ana C. M. L. de Araújo, Fabio Q. B. da Silva
Center of Informatics, Federal University of Pernambuco
Recife, Brazil

Abstract - Understanding motivation of software engineers has important implications for industrial practice. This complex construct seems to be affected by diverse environmental conditions and can affect multiple dimensions of work effectiveness. In this article, we present a grounded theory that describes the motivation of software engineers working in a not-for-profit private research and development organisation. We carried out a holistic case study for seven months, using structured interviews, diary studies, and documental analysis for data collection, and grounded theory techniques for data analysis and synthesis. The results point to task variety and technical challenges as the main drivers of motivation, and inequity and high workload (caused by poor estimations in the software process) as the main obstacles to motivation in the organisation.

Paper presented at 6th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering (CHASE 2013) ICSE 2013 Workshop, San Francisco, United States, May, 2013

http://www.chaseresearch.org/workshops/chase2013
http://www.haseresearch.com

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2013 CHASE - Motivation of Software Engineers: A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation

  1. 1. Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation A. César C. França, Ana C. M. L. de Araújo, Fabio Q. B. da Silva cesarfranca@gmail.com, anacatarinaaraujo@hotmail.com, fabio@cin.ufpe.br 6th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering (CHASE 2013) ICSE 2013 Workshop San Francisco, United States May 25th, 2013 1
  2. 2. Agenda Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation • Background • Research strategy • Results • Conclusion 2 CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  3. 3. Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Motivated individuals feel more willing to apply higher levels of effort to the job, which increases performance and decreases absenteeism, loafing, and voluntary turnover Hackman, 1987 Background 1/2 3 In Software Engineering, studies on this complex phenomenon have been conducted since the 1980’s. This body of research, however, has been dominated by quantitative studies based on survey research Beecham, 2008; França et al, 2011 Motivation is generically understood as the set of “factors or events that energize, channel, and sustain human behavior over time” Steers, Mowday, Shapiro, 2004 CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  4. 4. Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation There are few case studies providing in depth understanding of motivation of software engineers. Beecham, 2007 Tessem and Maurer, 2007 Sach, Sharp and Petre, 2011 Background 2/2 4 This is the third case of a series of case studies, using a multi-case replication design. França, Felix and da Silva, 2012 França, Carneiro and da Silva, 2012 In software engineering, most of survey results point to the software engineering job itself as the main motivator, while performance improvements and intention to leave the organisation are highlighted as the most important outcomes of, respectively, high and low motivation. Beecham, 2008; França et al, 2011 CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  5. 5. 5 Research Strategy 1/3 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Research question(s): (1) What factors affect the motivation of software engineers in the workplace? (2) What are the perceived outcomes of motivated behaviour? CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  6. 6. 6 Research Strategy 2/3 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Design of the Study: • Interpretive instrumental case study Yin, 2009 • Qualitative approach Sharam, 2009 • Grounded Theory Strauss and Corbin, 2007 Sampling: • Unity of analysis: the software engineer • Data triangulation, from managers and directors • Maximum variation selection strategy Strauss and Corbin, 2007 Data Collection: • Semi-structured interviews, which resulted in 8h 24min of audio. • Diary Studies: notepad and web-based, complemented by retrospective interviews. 86 reported events. • Documental Analysis CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  7. 7. 7 Research Strategy 3/3 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Software Engineer Unit of Analysis Maximum variation sampling: • Age • Background and education • Years of experience • Years of employment • Etc. (Strauss and Corbin, 2007) Project Managers Software Engineers Directors Semi- structured Interview Semi- structured Interview Semi- structured Interview Diary Studies Documental Analysis CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  8. 8. 8 Results 1/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Context Description • Private and not-for-profit software development organisation, whose headquarters are located in the Porto Digital Science Park, in Recife, Brazil. • CMMi-2 certification and targeting the CMMi-3 • Recife unity (40 professionals). • Hardware and software development projects, • Technologies such as .NET and Java. • No specific human resource management • Management processes followed the PMBOK guide, • Managers were certified PMP • Aprox. 300 professionals, 85% of which is part of the technical workforce CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  9. 9. 9 Results 2/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation What Factors Affect Software Engineers’Motivation? CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  10. 10. 10 Results 3/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Signs of Motivated Behavior CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  11. 11. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA Effort applied to the task (Motivation) 11 Results 4/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Reconstructing the central story of motivation in the organisation
  12. 12. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA Effort applied to the task (Motivation) 12 Results 4/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Reconstructing the central story of motivation in the organisation Proposition 1: Small teams, within a sociable environment, are likely to create the conditions to a high level of team members’ commitment and cohesion, but this effect is moderated by well or poorly performed managerial practices.
  13. 13. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA Effort applied to the task (Motivation) 13 Results 4/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Reconstructing the central story of motivation in the organisation Proposition 2: The smaller is the size of the team, the stronger are the effects of low equity (related to members competence, salary, workload, feedback, etc.) on team members’ commitment.
  14. 14. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA Effort applied to the task (Motivation) 14 Results 4/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Reconstructing the central story of motivation in the organisation Proposition 3: Planning effectiveness not only facilitates the schedule achievement, but also benefits the quality of products, consequently reinforcing software engineers’ motivation.
  15. 15. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA Effort applied to the task (Motivation) 15 Results 4/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Reconstructing the central story of motivation in the organisation Proposition 4: Software engineers, according to their experience, competence, career orientation, and career stage, are more or less motivated by challenging work, because of the professional reputation brought by the accomplishment of these challenges, according to the level of importance attributed to career progression.
  16. 16. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA Effort applied to the task (Motivation) 16 Results 4/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Reconstructing the central story of motivation in the organisationProposition 5: Emotional signs, attitudes, and job performance outcomes of motivation are moderated by factors such as personality and competence, but motivated individuals tend to behave as naturally as they are, and to perform as better as they can.
  17. 17. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA Effort applied to the task (Motivation) 17 Results 4/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Reconstructing the central story of motivation in the organisation The organisation deals with research, development and innovation, challenges related to the task are the main attractions to software engineers to work in the company. Factors such as task variety, autonomy, technological challenges and learning, make software engineers perceive their work as highly challenging and, when goals are accomplished, result in feelings of enjoyment.
  18. 18. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA Effort applied to the task (Motivation) 18 Results 4/4 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Reconstructing the central story of motivation in the organisation High workload represents the main barrier for motivation in this organisation. This high workload is mainly caused by the critical relationship with the customers, which implies poor planning activities, and a slow feedback structure
  19. 19. 19 Conclusions 1/2 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Summary of the Case: Motivation could be described as a constant concurrence of enjoyment against burnout forces, towards the intention to stay or leave the organisation. Enjoyment is conditioned by a higly challenging technical work, which is, as expected, a natural characteristic of a R&D organisation Particularities: In comparison to the previous cases, this one emphasizes the impact of the managerial practices on the motivation of software engineers, The main similarities lay on two facts: • the synergy on the teamwork • The nature of the tasks Similarities: The main similarities lay on two aspects: • the synergy on the teamwork • The nature of the tasks CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  20. 20. 20 Conclusions 2/2 Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Main Contributions: (1) It shows another view on the complex interplay among motivational factors, which is consistent to the main classic motivation theories (2) It was developed following a multi-case replication design, which can be used by other researchers in other contexts and situations. Future Work: To produce systematic cross- case analyses of the results reported in the three case studies. CHASE 2013 San Francisco, USA
  21. 21. Motivation of Software Engineers A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation Thank you! 6th International Workshop on Cooperative and Human Aspects of Software Engineering (CHASE 2013) ICSE 2013 Workshop San Francisco, United States May 25th, 2013 21
  22. 22. Motivation of Software Engineers: A Qualitative Case Study of a R&D Organisation by A. César C. França, Ana C. M. L. de Araújo, Fabio Q. B. da Silva is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at http://www.chaseresearch.org/workshops/chase2013. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.haseresearch.com

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