Role and impact of social relationships and networks in a software project team environment – a conceptual framework
The establishment of social relationships between information technology (IT) project team members is a phenomenon all IT professionals are exposed to and, in many cases, involved in. Furthermore, these relationships are used by IT project team members for personal as well as professional purposes. The question is what positive or negative contributions do these kinds of relationships have on the project itself? Past studies have placed little focus on these social relationships and networks, and have failed to take cognisance of their importance in the IT project environment. This paper demonstrates that social relationships and networks in the IT project environment play a significant role in project teams and should be managed in such a way that the team members and the project as a whole can benefit from them. A partial grounded theory (GT) research approach was followed. Interpretive patterns from GT enabled inferences to be drawn about the role and impact of social relationships and networks in IT project teams. The research findings provide practical considerations and highlight potential problem areas. A conceptual framework is proposed to support management in decision making and to give them a better understanding of the complexities involved in such relationships.