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Familiarity and Performance in Geographically Distributed Software Development

By J. Alberto Espinosa, Sandra A. Slaughter, Robert E. Kraut and James D. Herbsleb


Familiarity is the knowledge that members of a team have about the unique aspects of their work, which has been found to have a positive effect on team performance. There are different types of familiarity, including task familiarity – gained from past experience performing similar tasks – and team familiarity – acquired by working with each other. While there is evidence suggesting the beneficial effects of familiarity, most of the empirical research on familiarity has focused on labor crews and short-term experimental teams. More importantly, to the best of our knowledge, prior studies have not investigated the conditions under which familiarity can be more beneficial for performance. The uncertainties, complexities and tightly coupled interdependencies inherent in software development make it a task ideally suited to benefit from familiarity, but this effect is likely to vary for various task and team conditions. In this study we analyze archival data collected from software production sources to investigate the effect of task and team familiarity on performance in collaborative software development and the interaction effects of task – e.g., project size and complexity – and team context factors – e.g., geographic dispersion and team size – on this effect. Our results indicate that both task and team familiarity help reduce software development. We also find that task familiarity improves softwar

Year: 2005
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