Software Investigate

An Ethnographic Study of Conflict in Software Engineering Teams

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Executive Summary

This paper describes an ethnographic study of conflict in software engineering teams. The aim of the study was to uncover whether certain forms of conflict can be either constructive or destructive. Prior research has uncovered three distinct forms of conflict: task, relationship, and process. This trichotomy was used to measure conflict in this study. Additionally, each conflict episode was recorded to identify if certain issues were more likely to result in either constructive or destructive conflict. The initial findings of this research indicate that some forms of conflict are destructive regardless of the context they occur in. It was also found that the levels of skill and experience of team members and the methodology being adhered to can also play a role.

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