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Towards an Explanatory Theory of Motivation in Software Engineering: A Qualitative Case Study of a Government Organization
A. César C. França, Adelnei de L. C. Felix, Fabio Q. B. da Silva
Abstract-Background – The research about motivation in software engineering has provided important insights in characterizing what are the factors and outcomes related to motivation. However, the complex relationships among these factors, including the moderating and mediating effects of organizational and individual characteristics, still require deeper explanatory investigation. Aim – Our general goal is to build explanatory theories of motivation in software organizations. In this article, we describe the construction of a grounded theory of motivation in the context of a government software development organization. Method – We performed a case study of a government software organization, focusing on the software engineers as the unit of analysis. For eight months, we conducted semi structured interviews, diary studies, and documental analyses, and analyzed the collected data using grounded theory procedures. Results – We extracted contextual factors that affect the motivation of software engineers and the outcomes associated with motivated behavior. Relationships among factors and outcomes were used to construct propositions that explain motivated behavior. Finally, the factors and propositions with higher explanatory power were used to create the central story of motivation in the organization. Conclusions – The balance between Job Stability and Growth Needs emerged as the core factors related to the motivation in the organization. Unclear growth perspectives combined with priorities based on political instead of technical aspects directly affected the intention to leave the organization.
Paper presented at the 16th International Conference on Evaluation and Assessment in Software Engineering, Ciudad Real, 2012.