PhD defence by Stina Matthiesen
Title: Stereotyping in Globally distributed Collaboration - A CSCW Thesis on Global Software Development.
Date of defence: November 15th 2019, at 13.15
Place: The Lundbeckfond Auditorium (5-0-14), Ole Maaløes Vej 5, 2200 København N
This dissertation investigates the encounters that take place when IT professionals participate in global software development (GSD).
Large-scale software systems are difficult to develop in GSD, and IT professionals face a range of challenges. In this research, cultural differences served as the most frequent answer offered by IT professionals in Denmark when they were asked about their daily challenges. Often the descriptions expressed involved negative national stereotypes of collaborators in India or Poland. Yet, through closer investigation, it was clear that challenges merely related to coordination and communication issues, indicating that the vocabulary currently in use is insufficient to capture the concrete challenges in GSD. Still, negative stereotyping in GSD is rarely addressed in corporations or research.
This dissertation offers contributions to Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) by extending the set of theoretical concepts that guides us to move beyond negative stereotyping and support GSD work. As a novel contribution, the concept of implicit bias is introduced to help explain why well-intentioned people draw on stereotypical descriptions of foreign colleagues. Now, to move beyond negative stereotyping we must pay attention to the various ways categories, power hierarchies, misconceptions, and implicit biases contribute to collaboration-related challenges.
To this end, the dissertation introduces a GSD Stereotype Framework describing three main areas that should be examined closely to detect problems in GSD. 1) The organization of work. Understanding this requires investigation of the particular way implicit biases and power hierarchies influence a collaborative practice. 2) The collaborative technologies and system structures. Understanding this requires investigations of the categories embedded in the tools and systems. 3) The conditions for work. Analysis of these conditions must include attending to the misconceptions and implicit biases about working at a certain remote location.
Finally, by bringing considerations of implicit bias into practice the dissertation shows that people can be both supported and encouraged to move discussions from simplistic explanations to in-depth considerations on the practices, systems, and conditions that enable or constrain GSD work. The contributions set the stage for further investigations on how to intervene in practice and bring concepts such as implicit bias to attention as a complementary gaze on distributed collaboration.
Professor Finn Kensing, Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen
Associate Professor Yvonne Dittrich, IT university of Copenhagen
Professor Emeritus Liam Bannon, University of Limerick, Ireland
Professor Pernille Bjørn, Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen
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