Affiliated Organization

Case Western Reserve University, USA


The inherent complexity of information systems development presents significant impediments to the achievement of shared meaning among the members of a development team. In addition to the technical requirements of systems development, its intensely social nature challenges project teams to unite around a collective understanding of the processes and objectives that they pursue. How then do software development teams resolve questions of shared meaning in the development process? In this study, we build upon observations of a large platform development team to identify the ways in which team members converge around shared meanings through a repertoire of interpretive techniques. Specifically, we develop a model of interpretive team interaction that is based on the concept of a collective hermeneutic process. The collective hermeneutic model extends the hermeneutic tradition in IS research by addressing the ways in which an interpretation takes shape not simply within the mind of an individual but also through collaboration with others. Finally, we discuss implications of this theoretical perspective for the design of systems development environments and the prospect for additional research on the interpretive processes of development teams.