Role and impact of social relationships and networks in a software project team environment – a conceptual framework

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Awie Leonard


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.

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Author Biography

Awie Leonard, University of Pretoria

Awie Leonard, BSc Hons (PUC), MSc (UNISA) DCom (Informatics) joined the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in 1992 as a senior lecturer, after spending several years in the private sector as a programmer/systems analyst; project manager, systems development and maintenance manager. He is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Informatics at the University of Pretoria. Apart from lecturing in a variety of information technology subjects, his research focus is in the broad field of IT service management. Since 1992 he has delivered several conference papers and published several book chapters and articles related to the field of service management in the IT field.