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Abstract

One of the four values listed in the Agile Manifesto emphasizes customer collaboration over contract negotiation, yet the literature has not explained what constitutes customer collaboration and how to assess it. Little research has examined the nature and dimensions of collaboration in the context of agile software development. Based on a grounded theory methodology and using interview data collected from five software development outsourcing vendors in China, we explore the nature and key underlying dimensions of collaboration in agile software development. Five major dimensions of collaboration emerged from our analysis: mutual benefits, engagement, coordination, communication, and knowledge sharing. In turn, each dimension comprises key subdimensions that provide a comprehensive view of collaboration. By revealing the underlying nature and key dimensions, we provide a conceptual basis for operationalizing collaboration that one can employ in future quantitative studies on agility and other project outcomes. Our study results suggest that collaboration in agile software development is multifaceted and mutually occurring in both directions between the customer and the vendor rather than single dimensional as the term “customer collaboration” in the Agile Manifesto indicates.

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