A Paradox of the Change to User Stories: The Application of the Theory of Competing Commitments
Software development projects are about change, yet change is problematic in any situation. Individuals resist change and software developers are no different than other organizational actors in this regard. This paper describes a case study which examines the changes to the IS development environment wrought by the introduction of a new software development methodology. One aspect of the new methodology involves the use of user stories in place of traditional requirements documentation. The findings of this longitudinal study illustrated that developers’ commitment to the use of user stories diminished greatly, ranging from initial commitment to skepticism, to virtual abandonment. In order to explain the underlying reasons for the reduction in commitment, the authors used the theory of competing commitments. Competing commitments are typically subconscious forces that work against behaviors and actions that social actors were previously committed to. While competing commitment theory has been applied in other fields, it has not been applied previously in the field of IS to understand IS-based phenomena. Further to the use of the competing commitment process, this paper’s analysis of the software development project suggested the presence of hierarchical group think influencing the diminishing commitments.
McAvoy, John and Butler, Tom, "A Paradox of the Change to User Stories: The Application of the Theory of Competing Commitments" (2005). ECIS 2005 Proceedings. 81.