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Knowledge sharing in and between agile software development teams using knowledge practices: An interpretive case study at a medium-sized medical IT company
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Industrial Economics.
2017 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Kunskapsdelning inom och mellan agila utvecklingsteam med hjälp av kunskapsinitiativ : En fallstudie av ett medelstort IT-företag i medicinska sektorn (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Agile methods for software development have become popular, especially since the agile manifesto was written in 2001. Many positive effects have been found in organizations using agile methods, but also several dangers. Communication and collaboration in teams is often mentioned as something that works well with the methods, but interactions between teams are often lacking. Since agile teams are cross-functional and focused on products rather than specializations, knowledge becomes spread out in the organization. Within teams, different members often have different deep knowledge, but instead have a lot of knowledge about their products in common. This allows them to discuss knowledge related to the product well, but limits their possibility to discuss advanced topics and experiences regarding their deep knowledge or specialization within their team. These issues are important to consider when applying agile methods in organizations, and the research about the issues is quite thin.

 

In this research, I have taken an interpretive approach and carried out a case study at the development department of a medium-sized IT company providing large software systems for the healthcare industry, for which I have used the pseudonym MedTech. Three different teams have been studied through interviews with all members as well as observations of agile practices like daily meetings. Further, I have studied three different knowledge practices that MedTech uses to complement the creation and sharing of knowledge that happens in teams. These three complementary knowledge practices had different forms and handled knowledge in different ways. One was closely related to what literature often calls communities of practice, which are groups where members share an interest and interact to deepen their knowledge. In this practice at MedTech, meetings were used to discuss experiences and knowledge about topics within specific areas. Another was more focused on one-way communication through presentations and reading tips, spreading more basic knowledge to a wider audience. The third complementary knowledge practice let employees use 12 work hours every sixth week to do whatever they wanted that related to their knowledge, allowing them to e.g. explore new technologies and be creative or simply read up on some interesting topic.

 

My results show that agile teams support some sharing and creation of knowledge, especially through having members work closely to each other and share experiences, and through practising their skills in daily work, with help from each other when necessary. Like other research has shown, there was however a lack of practices for interactions between teams in the agile methods. Such interactions were crucial since I found teams to be comparable to theories about communities of knowing, where teams create strong perspectives, the sharing of which is important for utilization and creation of knowledge. The complementary knowledge practice that related to communities of practice was shown to be good for connecting employees with similar specializations, who would normally be separated in different teams. This allowed for creation and sharing of knowledge as individuals needed to explain their experiences and could combine knowledge from different members of the community. The other two complementary knowledge practices were shown to be good for increasing motivation to create and share knowledge, and showing that the organization valued the knowledge of individuals.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 53
Keywords [en]
agile software development, knowledge management, agile, knowledge, knowledge practice, knowledge sharing, knowledge creation, cross-funtional teams, inter-team knowledge sharing
National Category
Software Engineering
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-138950ISRN: LIU-IEI/LITH-TEX -A--17/02882--SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-138950DiVA, id: diva2:1115507
Subject / course
Computer Engineering
Presentation
2017-06-15, ACAS, Linköping, 14:45 (Swedish)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-08-15 Created: 2017-06-26 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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