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Cybernetics of Conflict within Multi-Partner Technology and Software Engineering Programmes

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2/06/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>IEEE Access
Volume8
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)94994-95018
Publication statusPublished
Early online date15/05/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Large technology and software engineering programmes, such as enterprise system pro- grammes, are increasingly implemented through a mixture of customer and specialist third-party resources. These multi-partner working environments can be thought of as a complex social system, which oftentimes experience various forms of conflict. This can be due to competing objectives and priorities of the various organizations, along with incompatibilities of team members within the work-based social network of the implementation programme. If not brought under control, conflict can lead to complex emergent behaviours and dynamics within the wider social network, which can severely impact the likelihood of successful programme implementation of these software-intensive systems. Using social network analysis and thematic coding analysis within a case study, we show that the project management of complex software-intensive implementations requires considerable focus on control and communication across the programme-wide social network of team members, which we represent as a cybernetic system. A conceptual framework has been developed that extends extant literature around conflict in teams by framing the individual projects and the overall programme-wide implementation as cybernetic systems. The conceptual framework illustrates how a cybernetics approach to conflict within enterprise system implementations, can provide new insights into how conflict develops within project teams. Finally, we argue that the cybernetic approach allows us to develop project management interventions to mitigate the risk of conflict development, or control and regulate conflict once it has developed. We conclude by setting the agenda for future research on how conflict can be controlled within the implementation of software-intensive systems, such as enterprise systems.