Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Looking at prominent centers of software activity across the globe we observe that software developers tell narratives about themselves to explain their identity and their successes. For example, the USA thinks in terms of the cowboy programmer, Ireland the Celtic Tiger, and Israel the commando programmer. These narratives provide insights into the mental world of individuals and groups in the global software industry. This paper collects and documents the narratives of software professionals in six nations: Russia, Israel, Ireland, USA, India, and Brazil. The country choice reflects a cross-section of prominent software nations. Using a taxonomy adapted from the political identity literature, we classify these narratives. The most frequently occurring narrative is the interplay between redemption, national suffering and heroism. Brazil, Russia, India, and Israel offer distinct narratives of redemption and suffering. Israel and the USA use distinct narratives of valor. Among the six nations' narratives, we find that some narratives are collectively oriented while others are individualistically oriented. National narratives are important for reasons both academic and practical. The literature on comparative human capital focuses on readily measurable data. Therefore, there may be a gap in understanding global competition in software. Narratives influence important decisions, such as where to locate a new software R&D site or where to invest in start-ups. An understanding of narratives helps to shape them.