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Journal articles (2020), Information Systems Journal, 30 (11), pp. 270-294

The use of prototypes to bridge knowledge boundaries in agile software development

HUBER Thomas , WINKER M., DIBBERN J., BROWN C.

Bridging knowledge boundaries among project team members is essential to prevent delays or complete failure of software development projects. Prior researchers have reported that software prototypes can be used to help bridge knowledge boundaries between team members in traditional software development settings, yet their use in an agile development setting remains unexplored. Agile development centers the interactions between team members on emerging representations of the prototype whose properties are prone to change over time. Therefore, we conducted an in‐depth study of an agile development project to enhance our understanding on how software prototypes are used as boundary objects in a distributed team setting. Our analyses of team member interactions during 46 virtual meetings that took place over a period of 6 months revealed four different prototype use practices (exemplifying, contrasting, relating, framing) that were effective in bridging syntactic, semantic, or pragmatic knowledge boundaries. We also provide empirically grounded evidence of how variations in object properties can afford different use practices, how the use practices take advantage of these properties, and how object properties are reshaped through these use practices as different types of knowledge boundaries are bridged. These findings bear important implications for research on prototypes as boundary objects in software development in particular and boundary object use in general. Link to the article

HUBER, T., WINKER, M., DIBBERN, J. and BROWN, C. (2020). The use of prototypes to bridge knowledge boundaries in agile software development. Information Systems Journal, 30(11), pp. 270-294.