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Organizational Change Perspectives on Software Process Improvement


  • Müller, Sune Dueholm

    () (Department of Business Studies, Aarhus School of Business)

  • Mathiassen, Lars

    (Georgia State University)

  • Balshøj, Hans Henrik

    (Systematic Software Engineering)


Many software organizations have engaged in Software Process Improvement (SPI) and experienced the challenges related to managing such complex organizational change efforts. As a result, there is an increasing body of research investigating change management in SPI. To provide an overview of what we know and don’t know about SPI as organizational change, this paper addresses the following question: What are the dominant perspectives on SPI as organizational change in the literature and how is this knowledge presented and published? All journals on the AIS ranking list were screened to identify relevant articles and Gareth Morgan’s organizational metaphors (1996) were used to analyze this literature considering the following dimensions of each article: organizational perspective (metaphor), knowledge orientation (normative versus descriptive), theoretical emphasis (high versus low), main audience (practitioner versus academic), geographical origin (Scandinavia, the Americas, Europe, or the Asia-Pacific), and publication level (high versus low ranked journal). The review demonstrates that the literature on SPI as organizational change is firmly grounded in both theory and practice, and Scandinavia and the Americas are the main contributors to this research. The distribution of articles across Morgan’s metaphors is uneven and reveals knowledge gaps that present new avenues for research. The current literature offers important insights into organizational change in SPI from machine, organism, and brain perspectives. Practitioners may use these articles as a guide to SPI insights relevant to their improvement initiatives. In contrast, the impact of culture, dominance, psychic prison, flux and transformation, and politics in SPI have only received scant attention. We argue that these perspectives offer important insights into the challenges involved in managing change in SPI. Researchers are therefore advised to engage in new SPI research based on one or more of these perspectives. Overall, the paper provides a roadmap to help identify insights and specific articles related to SPI as organizational change.

Suggested Citation

  • Müller, Sune Dueholm & Mathiassen, Lars & Balshøj, Hans Henrik, 2008. "Organizational Change Perspectives on Software Process Improvement," Informatics Research Group Working Papers I-2008-02, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhb:aarbin:2008-002

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    1. Elkind, Andrea, 1998. "Using metaphor to read the organisation of the NHS," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 47(11), pages 1715-1727, December.
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    Software Process Improvement; Organizational Change; Organizational Metaphors; Images of Organization; Literature Review;

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