Building Bridges, Burning Bridges: The Use of Boundary Objects in Agile Distributed ISD Teams

Mccarthy, Stephen
O'Raghallaigh, Paidi
Fitzgerald, Ciara
Adam, Frédéric
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Boundary objects are physical and abstract artefacts which support team interactions across diverse knowledge domains. Despite their relevancy, research into the effectiveness of boundary objects in agile distributed ISD remains nascent. In this paper, we develop a framework to theorize their effectiveness in generating cohesion within distributed teams. Our in-depth case study finds that their effectiveness is influenced by the nature of the boundary objects themselves but also by team members’ willingness to address differences in contextual factors. We identify three contextual factors - structure, identity, and culture - that are critical to supporting team members crossing knowledge boundaries within distributed teams. Furthermore, findings suggest that while boundary objects can indeed foster team cohesion in agile distributed ISD, there are other less explored aspects to their role. For example, we find that boundary objects can be useful for enabling constructive team conflict.
Emerging Issues in e-Collaboration Distributed Group Decision-Making: Opportunities and Challenges, agile, boundary objects, cohesion, distributed teams, information systems development
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