UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page -
UBC Home Page UBC Home Page -
News Events Directories Search UBC myUBC Login
- -

Intercultural Factors in Global Software Projects

by Eve MacGregor and Yvonne Hsieh
in collaboration with: Mackie Chase, UBC Center for Intercultural Communication, EMERGENCE project



This project is examining the concept of culture and the potential impact of intercultural dynamics on software development projects. In the past decade, the North American and European IT industry has observed a rapid increase in the number of companies outsourcing software projects for development abroad or starting their own development centres in off-shore locations. Many of the difficulties confronting this Global Software Development (GSD) environment have little to do with technical inadequacy; rather, they are "human" issues that occur when extensive collaboration and communication among developers in multiple locations and from distinct cultural backgrounds are required. Project managers are reporting that, given a "culturally aware" lens, they are able to tentatively identify cultural approaches to various stages of the software development lifecycle. These cultural approaches are reported to be affecting development processes, artifacts and communication. The results are both positive and negative and may add a new dimension to activities such as Risk Management and talent utilization. With teams spread across the globe, development activities such as system integration, performance tuning and bug fixing may be affected more heavily by architectural choices placing module boundaries along cultural lines. There has been little analytical research done in this area and impact is assessed based on anecdotal accounts by project managers. There seems to be a general consensus that this issue is a problem that will only increase as more offshore outsourcing occurs. There is, however, little consensus and few ideas on what can be done about problem areas.


Current Status

We are currently in an exploratory phase which consists of interviewing members of global development teams. These interviews are designed to elicit a picture of the company's software process and then map if and where incidents (both positive and negative) are occurring. This investigation is specifically designed to extract process related incidents; where in the lifecycle issues are arising and which artifacts are affected.

If you are part of a global development effort read our Letter of Recruitment (note: as of 07 July 2005 this document is in the process of being reviewed by the Behavioural Research Ethics Board at UBC as part of the normal procedure for research on human subjects).



P. Kruchten, "Analyzing Intercultural Factors Affecting Global Software Development," in Proceedings of (GSD2004) 3rd International Workshop on Global Software Development, Collocated with ICSE, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2004, IEE, pp. 59-62.
E. MacGregor, Y. Hsieh, and P. Kruchten, "Cultural Patterns in Software Process Mishaps: Incidents in Global Projects," in Proceedings of Human and Social Factors of Software Engineering (HSSE), St. Louis, Missouri, USA, 2005, ACM.
E. MacGregor, Y. Hsieh, and P. Kruchten, "Intercultural Factors in Global Software Development," in Proceedings of Canadian Conference on Electrical and Computer Engineering, Saskatoon, Sask., 2005, IEEE.


Relevant Links / Documents




Return to Project Listings

CSS tab layout adopted from SilverOrange CSS Tabs