Perceptions of Task Interdependence in Software Development: An Industrial Case Study





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Context: Task interdependence is a work design factor that expresses the mutual dependency between tasks that compose a whole work. In software development, task interdependencies are created by the technical dependencies between the components of the software system and by how the development tasks are allocated to individuals in a teamwork context. Despite its importance for individual and team effectiveness, we still do not have studies about how software engineers perceive task interdependence in practice. Goal: To understand the perceptions of software engineers about the interdependence in their work and how these perceptions interact with other human and technical factors in the development process. Method: We performed an exploratory qualitative case study of a single software development team in a Brazilian software company that developed solutions for the financial market. We interviewed all 10 team members and used standard coding techniques from qualitative research to code, categorize, and synthesize data. Results: Individuals are consistent in their understanding of task interdependence and how it happens in practice. However, there are asymmetries between the individual perceptions in an interdependence relationship, which seem to exacerbate expressed feelings of anxiety and dissatisfaction. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the perception of task interdependence in software development is often not symmetrical with potential negative effects on emotional states that are related to motivation and satisfaction in the workplace.