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Organizational Volatility and Its Effects on Software

Reviewed by Jorge Aranda / 2011-06-27
Keywords: Organizational Behavior, Quality

Mockus2010 Audris Mockus: "Organizational volatility and its effects on software defects". Proceedings of the eighteenth ACM SIGSOFT international symposium on Foundations of software engineering - FSE'10, 10.1145/1882291.1882311.

The key premise of an organization is to allow more efficient production, including production of high quality software. To achieve that, an organization defines roles and reporting relationships. Therefore, changes in organization's structure are likely to affect product's quality. We propose and investigate a relationship between developer-centric measures of organizational change and the probability of customer-reported defects in the context of a large software project. We find that the proximity to an organizational change is significantly associated with reductions in software quality. We also replicate results of several prior studies of software quality supporting findings that code, change, and developer characteristics affect fault-proneness. In contrast to prior studies we find that distributed development decreases quality. Furthermore, recent departures from an organization were associated with increased probability of customer-reported defects, thus demonstrating that in the observed context the organizational change reduces product quality.

The influx of newcomers into an organization does not seem to increase defects in its software, perhaps because newcomers get simple tasks at the start. However, other changes to the organization (and especially departures from it) hurt its software significantly. In his paper, Mockus notes that organizational volatility is not the main driver of defects—that would be the technical complexity of the code. But his organizational change measures still explain over 20% of the variance in fault-proneness of the code.