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Title: The impact of communication on trust in agile methods
Authors: Hasnian, Eisha
Advisors: Hall, T
Shepperd, M
Keywords: Software engineering;Software development;Working together;Pair programming;Business meetings
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: Background: With the increasing reliance on software, software engineering continues to face many challenges. Previous studies suggest that human factors are as difficult to get right as technical factors, and that trust is one of the human factors that directly influences the way people work. This research looks at how a variety of communication channels can be helpful in achieving trust. The literature suggests that trust is an explicit requirement in Agile Methods. An important element of such interactions between individuals is trust. Individuals and their interactions is one of the key principals of any agile developmental methodology. Aim: This research aims to investigate the importance of trust between individuals using Agile Methods. The investigation focuses on how trust is improved with communication. Forms of communication are analysed. In the first study the impact of face-to-face communication is compared to no communication. The second study compared face-to-face communication with instant messaging to further analyse trust. Method: To investigate the impact of communication on trust, this research used Game Theory in a simulated agile development environment. During the initial study 28 iterated games with 56 practitioners and student participants were conducted. Stand-up meetings are used as the communication intervention. Levels of trust in games using stand-up meetings as a communication channels are compared to games where no stand-up meetings(no communication) are used. This research then investigates the importance of trust via synchronous communication channels in Agile Methods with 20 iterated games with 40 participants used in a final study. Stand-up meetings are again used as the communication intervention. Levels of trust in games using face-to-face stand-up meetings are compared to games where instant messaging is used. Results: The findings of this research are that increased communication has a large positive effect upon the level of trust between team members in an Agile setting. This suggests that communication improves trust in development teams. This research also suggests that face-to-face communication has a particularly positive effect upon the level of trust between team members in an Agile setting. However, this research also suggests that instant messaging communication does also create trust. Conclusion: This research suggests that trust is an important factor in the software development process. Communication is an important trust building factor. Some forms of communication are better in building trust compared to others. The main contribution to knowledge this research makes is that the use of Game Theory is an effective method by which to investigate trust as it allows the simulation of behaviour in relation to trust and the direct observation that behaviour. Game Theory also enabled the behaviour observed to be analysed objectively. This research also contributes to understanding of the value of trust in relation to communication and provides evidence that opportunities for communication should be built into development processes.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Master of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:Computer Science
Dept of Computer Science Theses

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