Does the XP environment meet the motivational needs of the software developer? An empirical study

Author(s): Beecham, Sarah; Sharp, Helen; Baddoo, Nathan; Hall, Tracy; Robinson, Hugh
Venue: AGILE 2007
Date: 13-17 Aug. 2007

Type of Experiement: Case Study




This case study examined the factors of motivation for a software engineer working within a team; the study hoped to analyze if extreme programming met the motivational factors found amongst members of a traditional software team. Five "mature" extreme programming teams - those with at least a year of extreme programming experience - were interviewed and asked questions about the good and bad developers on their team. The developers were not asked direct questions about motivation, but instead were asked questions about their interactions with other team members, from which motivational factors were assessed.

Characteristics of "good" and "bad" teammates were identified and defined; then data collected from the five teams was used to determine if extreme programming met these motivational requirements. The first motivational factor analyzed was perceived progress; all of the extreme programming teams had a "Wall" which they used to display the task cards for the current iteration. The Walls gave an at-a-glance indication of the progress of the iteration. The authors found that pair programming and collective code ownership led to a team-focused mentality, in which the whole team was responsible for the quality of the produced product; pair programming was also found to negate the effects of fear, insecurity, and doubts.

While extreme programming seemed to satisfy a majority of the teams' motivational needs, several needs appeared to be poorly suited to the structure of extreme programming. In particular, individualistic goals, such as individual recognition, career advancement, and confidence to work by oneself may be hindered by pair programming and a team-focused mentality.