Exploring the impacts of development methodologies on the collective action of information systems development project teams.
Information systems development (ISD) constitutes the largest proportion of capital expenditures in most medium to large organizations globally, yet delays and budget overruns are commonplace. ISD methodologies, such as waterfall and agile, systematize and organize the development process, but all methodologies have strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, ISD methodologies and project team dynamics are impacted by invisible hands in organizations, which are the social forces such as project team composition and culture, the economic forces such as project budget and team knowledge, and the political forces such as stakeholder control mechanisms and arising conflicts within project teams. Using the lens of collective action theory, this research explores how invisible hands influence changes to ISD methodologies that impact the ability of project teams to collectively attain their project goals. Through collective action theory, this research ultimately extricates ramifications to project team cohesion while project teams endure the negative impacts of the social, economic and political forces towards the completion of ISD projects. This research employs a multiple case study to examine the team dynamics of three ISD project teams from two research sites with varied project outcomes: a failed project, a marginally successful project, and an exemplarily successful project. Cutting across the cases, this study proposes a process model that explains the confluence, bombardment and endurance phases that ISD project teams cyclically undergo as project teams sustain the impacts of organizational forces and adjust the ISD methodologies to further their projects. This research offers two primary contributions. First, the use of collective action theory helps in providing a more holistic understanding of challenges encountered by ISD project teams through propositions that integrate the impacts of forces in an organization’s social, economic and political environments. Second, this study offers a process model that imparts insights from the perspective of ISD project teams who attempt to work cohesively towards the attainment of project goals. These study contributions potentially improve the risk mitigation and resolution of challenges in ISD projects as organizations seek to accomplish business goals, as well as enhance ISD project team attributes that may improve project team performance and successes through better team cohesion.