Agile information systems development (ISD) projects face the dilemma of control versus autonomy. Although autonomy benefits agile ISD, many projects in practice nevertheless feature project managers who exert control for more formal structure and guidance. To address this autonomy–control dilemma, prior research on traditional ISD highlights the need for control ambidexterity, which is the simultaneous execution of contrasting control activities. However, little is known about achieving control ambidexterity in agile ISD projects, and, in particular, how agile project managers dynamically adapt controls to changing contextual requirements. Our in-depth case study in the IT department of a multinational container shipping company that runs several Scrum ISD projects identifies four agile project management styles (Landscaper, Buddy, Detective, and Commander) and associated balanced practices for control ambidexterity. We also show how agile project managers blend or shift their styles in response to conflicts, revealing different levels of adherence to agile development principles. We contribute to ISD control literature by reflecting on different forms of contextual and temporal control ambidexterity and theorizing how the interplay between control conflicts and underlying factors leads to varied ambidexterity forms. Furthermore, our insights suggest signaling theory should complement agency and stewardship theories to better understand agile ISD control.
Virag, Peter; Bernroider, Edward W.N.; and Remus, Ulrich, "Agile Project Management Styles and Control Ambidexterity in Agile Information Systems Development Projects: An Exploratory Case Study" (2024). JAIS Preprints (Forthcoming). 132.
Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/jais_preprints/132