“Primus inter Pares”?—The Perception of Emergent Leadership Behavior in Agile Software Development Teams

Biehler, Jan
Przybilla, Leonard
Krcmar, Helmut
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Despite being a key feature of Agile Software Development (ASD), self-organization within ASD teams has received limited research attention. Hence, this study furthers our understanding of how informal emergent leadership may develop within ASD teams by combining knowledge on ASD teams with extant research on emergent leadership. In an exploratory mixed-method study of two Scrum teams, we observed two specific types of emergent leaders, namely, a “detail-oriented structurer”, and a “big picture coordinator.” For emergent leadership to develop, the Scrum master had to create a “leadership gap.” Given this leadership gap, emergent leadership may develop in a circular manner: specific behaviors of team members and their perceptions may provide the basis for emergent leadership, which combined with implicit leadership theories of team members give rise to a leadership structure. Our results add to research on emergent leadership and increase our understanding of self-organization in ASD teams.
Agile and Lean: Organizations, Products and Development, agile software development, self-organization, emergent leadership, agile management, perceptions
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