Understanding Agility in Software Development through A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective
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Wang, X. and K. Conboy (2009): "Understanding Agility in Software Development through A Complex Adaptive Systems Perspective", in the Proceedings of the 17th European Conference on Information Systems, Verona, June 7-9.
Agile software development methods have emerged in recent years and have become increasingly popular since the start of the century. While much research claims to study agile methods, the meaning of agility itself in software development is yet to be fully understood. Agility is viewed by some as the antithesis of plan, structure discipline and bureaucracy. This study aims to develop a better understanding of agility, using the key concepts of Complex Adaptive Systems as a theoretical lens. The study explores agility from several different angles, including autonomous team, stability and uncertainty, and team learning. A multiple case study research method was employed. The findings of the study emphasize that agility is manifested as stability and discipline, which are just as desirable as flexibility, and context sharing is of the same value and importance as knowledge sharing. In addition, the collective nature of learning is underlined.