Date of Award

Fall 10-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science in Information Systems


Business and Information Systems

First Advisor

Surendra Sarnikar

Second Advisor

Amit Deokar

Third Advisor

Viki Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Zixing Shen


This study, using a grounded theory methodology, develops a theory of antecedents for the preference of Agile Information Systems Development. The theory emerges from data collected in the form of interviews with a variety of different software developers. Grounded theory practices of coding transcripts into increasing levels of abstraction led to the formation of constructs and their relationships that make up the theory. Understanding the antecedents of preference for agile software development has important application to management of software development projects. This understanding can lead to more effective formation of teams, better training for developers faced with integrating agile methods into their software development practice on upcoming or current projects. Knowing the factors that software developers find appealing can also assist teams to optimize their software development efforts by focusing on the key components of agile that make it desirable. Analyzing the data revealed that three broad categories or themes lead to increased preference for agile methods. One of the key factors is self-efficacy. Software developers felt that using agile methods made them effective and efficient. They felt that they produced higher quality software for their customers. And they felt that the agile approach fit better with the reality of changing requirements and customer the customer desire to see and experience the software faster than with the longer cycles of traditional Waterfall methodology. In addition to self-efficacy, affective response emerged as another key factor for preference of agile methods. Developers consistently expressed that they were more engaged, felt a sense of accomplishment, experienced increased confidence and had a better work-life balance when using agile software development methods. These emotional benefits attracted software developers to agile methods. The other category is intra-inter personal effects. Developers said communication within the team, with stakeholders and particularly customers were improved with agile methods. The short cycle with quicker delivery allowed customers to provide faster and more meaningful feedback. The daily stand-up meetings that were common among participants v also improved team communication. One final concept within the intra-inter personal dimension is that participants experienced positive social influence. Respected individuals planted positive thoughts about agile that increased the participants’ preference for agile methods. Two concepts were identified that inhibit preference for agile. First, negative social influence. When either management or customers indicated a desire for Waterfall it negatively influenced some participants’ preference for agile. Finally, when a developer is satisfied with the status quo or fears learning a new methodology they have a decreased preference for agile.