University of Oulu

Iivari, J. (2021). A Paradox Lens to Systems Development Projects: The Case of the Agile Software Development. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 49, pp-pp.

A paradox lens to systems development projects : the case of the agile software development

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Author: Iivari, Juhani1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Association for Information Systems, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-10-25


Research into organizations has concluded that organizational effectiveness is paradoxical (i.e., effective organizations must have simultaneously contradictory, even mutually exclusive, attributes). Although systems development projects constitute temporary organizations, researchers have largely omitted the paradox lens in their context. In this paper, I move toward rectifying the situation by focusing specifically on the agile software development (ASD) as a timely systems development approach in practice. I identify 11 interrelated and actable paradoxical tensions concerning the priority, structure, and execution of systems development projects. Each tension imposes competing demands on projects. To address them requires human ingenuity and judgement, though systems development methods and approaches can provide aid. I show that ASD comprises mechanisms for that purpose largely due to the reflective nature of the ASD process in which each retrospective assesses what went well in the previous sprint (iteration) and what could be improved in the next sprint. At the same time, ASD has built-in flexibility that makes it possible to adapt the method-in-use when deemed necessary or reasonable.

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Series: Communications of the Association for Information Systems
ISSN: 1529-3181
ISSN-E: 1529-3181
ISSN-L: 1529-3181
Volume: 49
Pages: 1 - 37
DOI: 10.17705/1CAIS.04901
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: express my gratitude to the associate editor for excellent comments on the previous version of my paper and to Adam LeBrocq, AIS Copyeditor, for carefully editing my text.
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