On Understanding Preference for Agile Methods Among Software Developers

David Bishop, Dakota State University
Amit V. Deokar, University of Massachusetts at Lowell
Surendra Sarnikar, California State University, East Bay


Agile methods are gaining widespread use in industry. Although management is keen on adopting agile, not all developers exhibit preference for agile methods. The literature is sparse in regard to why developers may show preference for agile. Understanding the factors informing the preference for agile can lead to more effective formation of teams, better training approaches, and optimizing software development efforts by focusing on key desirable components of agile. This study, using a grounded theory methodology, finds a variety of categories of factors that influence software developer preference for agile methods including self-efficacy, affective response, interpersonal response, external contingencies, and personality contingencies. Each of these categories contains multiple dimensions. Preference rationalization for agile methods is the core category that emerges from the data. It informs that while the very essence of agile methods overwhelmingly and positively resonates with software developers, the preference is contingent on external and personality factors as well.