Global Software Development

Global software development (GSD) has become an extremely important issue for organizations in recent years given the increasing tendency towards globalization and global outsourcing. A number of studies have been conducted which have identified a set of problematic areas which are common across projects, including language and cultural differences, trust factors, communication across temporal and spatial distances, lack of shared contextual awareness. (Boland & Fitzgerald 2004; Holmstrom et al 2008).

Our GSD research has been conducted in the following streams:

  • Extent of realisation of Benefits of GSD– The problems of GSD are indicated above, but organizations are keen to pursue due to the expectation of benefit ssuch as the following: reduced development costs due to lower wage costs; reduced cycle time arising from ‘follow-the-sun’ software development across time-zones; new opportunities for cross-site modularization of development work; access to a larger and better-skilled developer pool; innovation and shared best practice; and closer proximity to markets and customers. However our research suggests that these benefits are not easy to realize (e.g. (Agerfalk et al 2008; Holmstrom et al 2006; O Conchuir et al 2009)
  • Agile GSD– initial suggestions by both agile advocates and plan-driven supporters suggested that agile methods were not suited to distributed development environments. However, this has now been largely overturned with many studies confirming successful agile GSD (e.g. (Agerfalk & Fitzgerald 2006; Agerfalk et al 2009; Holmstrom et al 2006)



Agerfalk, P and Fitzgerald, B (2006) Flexible and distributed software processes: old petunias in new bowls? Communications of the ACM, Vol 49, No 10, pp. 26-34.

Agerfalk, P, Fitzgerald B and Slaughter S (2009) Flexible and distributed information systems development: state of the art and research challenges, Information Systems Research, Vol 20 No 3, pp. 317-328

Agerfalk, P, Fitzgerald, B, Holmstrom, H and O Conchuir, E (2008) Benefits of Global Software Development: The Known and Unknown, in Q. Wang, D. Pfahl, and D.M. Raffo (Eds.): Making Globally Distributed Software Development a Success Story, ICSP 2008, LNCS 5007, pp. 1 – 9, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

Boland D & Fitzgerald B (2004) Transitioning from a co-located to a globally-distributed software development Team: A Case Study at Analog Devices Inc, 3rd. International Workshop on Global Software Development, Edinburgh, Scotland, pp.4-7.

Holmstrom, H, O Conchuir, E, Agerfalk, P and Fitzgerald, B (2008) Two-stage offshoring: an investigation of the Irish bridge, MIS Quarterly, Vol 32, No 2, pp. 201-224

Holmstrom, H, Fitzgerald, B, Agerfalk, P and O Conchuir, E (2006) Agile practices reduce distance in global software development, Information Systems Management, Vol 23, No. 3, pp. 7-18

Ó Conchúir, E, Ågerfalk, P, Olsson H.H, and Fitzgerald, B (2009) Global software development: never mind the problems – where are the benefits? Communications of the ACM, Vol 52, No 8, Aug 2009