Completed Research Paper
Management literature on agile software development has largely focused on the relationship between agile methods and behavioral control, particularly the role that control plays in fostering flexibility. Although the focus on control has helpfully illuminated the constraints necessary in agile projects, it has provided only a half-finished portrait of the importance of structure in this approach to software development. This paper deconstructs the customary oppositions between structure and flexibility, control and freedom, by examining the socially-governed and technologically-mediated practices that produce and sustain agility in an organization that is an exemplary practitioner of the agile approach. We find that an imbrication of social convention and material agency provides the kind of structure that nurtures those markers of ‘freedom’ – flexibility, creativity, improvisation, and adaptability – for which agile is touted.
The Structuring of Freedom in Agile Development