Sociomaterial bricolage: The creation of location-spanning work practices by global software developers

TitleSociomaterial bricolage: The creation of location-spanning work practices by global software developers
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsJohri, A
Secondary TitleInformation and Software Technology
Pagination955 - 968
Date Published9/2011
ISSN Number09505849
KeywordsGlobal software development, Interpretive analysis, interviews, Qualitative field study, Sociomaterial bricolage, Virtual teams, Work practices


Studies on global software development have documented severe coordination and communication problems among coworkers due to geographic dispersion and consequent dependency on technology. These problems are exacerbated by increase in the complexity of work undertaken by global teams. However, despite these problems, global software development is on the rise and firms are adopting global practices across the board, raising the question: What does successful global software development look like and what can we learn from its practitioners?

This study draws on practice-based studies of work to examine successful work practices of global software developers. The primary aim of this study was to understand how workers develop practices that allow them to function effectively across geographically dispersed locations.

An ethnographically-informed field study was conducted with data collection at two international locations of a firm. Interview, observation and archival data were collected. A total of 42 interviews and 3 weeks of observations were conducted.

Teams spread across different locations around the world developed work practices through sociomaterial bricolage. Two facets of technology use were necessary for the creation of these practices: multiplicity of media and relational personalization at dyadic and team levels. New practices were triggered by the need to achieve a work-life balance, which was disturbed by global development. Reflecting on my role as a researcher, I underscore the importance of understanding researchers’ own frames of reference and using research practices that mirror informants’ work practices.

Software developers on global teams face unique challenges which necessitate a shift in their work practices. Successful teams are able to create practices that span locations while still being tied to location based practices. Inventive use of material and social resources is central to the creation of these practices.

Short TitleInformation and Software Technology
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