Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Software process improvement as emergent change: a structurational analysis.

Allison, I.; Merali, Y.


I. Allison

Y. Merali


This paper presents a framework that draws on structuration theory and dialectical hermeneutics to explicate the dynamics of software process improvement (SPI) in a packaged software organisation. Adding to the growing body of qualitative research, this approach overcomes some of the criticisms of interpretive studies, especially the need for the research to be reflexive in nature. Our longitudinal analysis of the case study shows SPI to be an emergent rather than a deterministic activity: the design and action of the change process are shown to be intertwined and shaped by their context. This understanding is based upon a structurational perspective that highlights how the unfolding/realisation of the process improvement (intent) are enabled and constrained by their context. The work builds on the recognition that the improvements can be understood from an organisational learning perspective. Fresh insights to the improvement process are developed by recognising the role of the individual to influence the improvement through facilitating or resisting the changes. The understanding gained here can be applied by organisations to enable them to improve the effectiveness of their SPI programmes, and so improve the quality of their software.


ALLISON, I. and MERALI, Y. 2007. Software process improvement as emergent change: a structurational analysis. Information and software technology [online], 49(6), pages 668-681. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 30, 2007
Online Publication Date Jun 30, 2007
Publication Date Jun 30, 2007
Deposit Date Oct 1, 2008
Publicly Available Date Oct 1, 2008
Journal Information and software technology
Print ISSN 0950-5849
Electronic ISSN 1873-6025
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 6
Pages 668-681
Keywords Software process improvement; Software quality; Software package development; Structuration theory
Public URL


Downloadable Citations