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Human and social aspects of software development for complex organisations: an online ethnography of software developers

Loureiro-Koechlin, Cecilia


Cecilia Loureiro-Koechlin


Wendy Robson


This thesis addresses the problem of human and social issues that affect software development. It is situated within the field of Information Systems and focuses on the processes of software production used within complex organisational processes: particularly decision-making, collaboration and workflow. Human and social issues are problems and situations caused by the members of the target organisations, software developers, and the dynamics of their working and social interactions.

The objective of this thesis is to identify these human and social issues and see how they affect software developers' work. The methodological approach adopted here, is designed from the interpretive point of view. This study takes the perspective of software developers as they possess practical knowledge of complex business settings and current software development practices. Online ethnography is the chosen method that allows this investigation access to virtual communities in which software developers work and exchange experiences. The design of this thesis is as follows:

1. Online data is collected which reflect software developers' beliefs about their work and their target organisations.
2. Data categories are created which show a picture of the current state of affairs in software development.
3. An interpretive theory building strategy is used to create a model of software development based on data categories.

The final outcome of this thesis is developed as a complement to Orlikowski's (2000) structurational model of enactment of technologies-in-practice and takes the form of a descriptive, theory based model. This model contributes to the deeper understanding of software development issues. It presents human and social issues that affect the production of software within three different contexts: software development environment, software development practices and complex business organisations. The model generated in this thesis also suggests that software developers' perceptions of human and social issues in complex business organisations are influenced by the developers' background knowledge and experience.


Loureiro-Koechlin, C. (2006). Human and social aspects of software development for complex organisations: an online ethnography of software developers. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Jul 10, 2012
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Business
Public URL
Additional Information Business School, The University of Hull
Award Date Jul 1, 2006


Thesis (60.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2006 Loureiro-Koechlin, Cecilia. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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