Global Software Development

Research projects under this theme address the many issues that arise in a globally distributed and virtual team context.  Themes and topics relate to the increasing globalisation of software development, where software is developed in a context of globally distributed individuals and teams.

The global dimension adds additional complexities to the inherently difficult process of software development, and gives rise to questions such as: what are the roles of time and space in global software projects; what technology environments (and in particular collaborative technologies) lend support to global software development; how is technology-use mediated in distributed projects; what additional dimensions (e.g. leadership) and roles need to be considered and managed in a global project; what are the implications for software practices; what is the ecology of these projects; how do Open Source software projects evolve and become self sustaining; how do these teams communicate and coordinate their work; how are the complexities of intercultural communication navigated?

Contact Tony Clear for more information on work in this theme.

Current Projects

1.  Technology-use Mediation

The doctoral study by Tony Clear and subsequent work has built an empirically grounded picture of the processes of technology-use mediation in Global Virtual Teams by analysing the activities of teams of educators and technologists supporting a global collaboration between New Zealand, Sweden and the United States of America.  Set in a tertiary education context, it reflects the reality of professionals at work in a global virtual team and represents the first known in-depth longitudinal study of technology-use mediation in a real global virtual team setting.

Download the doctoral thesis

Related publications:

  • Clear, T., Hussain, W., & MacDonell, S. G. (2012). The Many Facets of Distance and Space: the Mobility of Actors in Globally Distributed Project Teams. Paper presented at the meeting of the 7th IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering (ICGSE), 2012 Porto Alegre, Brazil.
  • Clear, T., & MacDonell, S. G. (2010). Beyond "Temponomics' - The Many Dimensions of Time in Globally Distributed Project Teams. In Y. Dubinski & A. Milewski (Chair), IEEE. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the Global Software Engineering (ICGSE), 2010 5th IEEE International Conference on, Princeton, NJ. Retrieved from 10.1109/ICGSE.2010.56
  • Clear, T. (2009). Researching Collaborative Technologies in Global Virtual Teams: Empirical Studies from an Interpretive Perspective. In J. Verner & D. Paulish (Eds.), Proceedings of the Fourth IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering (ICGSE 2009) - Workshop on Empirical Experiences, Metrics and Tools for Project Management in Globally Distributed Software Development Projects (pp. 358-363). Limerick, Ireland: IEEE.
  • Clear, T. (2009, Jul 13 -16). Dimensions of Collaboration in Global Software Engineering Teams: Explorations of ‘Collaborative Technology Fit’. Paper presented at the Fourth IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering (IGCSE'09), Limerick, Ireland.

2.  Global Collaborations in Software Engineering Education

An extension of the research programme has been conducted at Uppsala University in Sweden, where the applicability of the research framework developed has been assessed in a different field setting involving a global collaboration between Swedish and American students.

Related publication:

  • Daniels, M., Cajander, Å., Pears, A., & Clear, T. (2010). Engineering Education Research in Practice: Evolving Use of Open Ended Group Projects as a Pedagogical Strategy for Developing Skills in Global Collaboration (Special issue on Applications of Engineering Education Research). International Journal of Engineering Education 26(4), 795-806.
  • Cajander, Å., Clear, T., Daniels, M., Edlund, J., Hamrin, P., Laxer, C., et al. (2009, 18-21 Oct, 2009). Students analyzing their collaboration in an International Open Ended Group Project. Paper presented at the 39th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference., San Antonio, Texas
  • Cajander, Å., Clear, T., & Daniels, M. (2009, 18-21 Oct, 2009). Introducing an External Mentor in an International Open Ended Group Project. Paper presented at the 39th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference., San Antonio, Texas

Continuing the long established collaboration with Uppsala University, Per Hamrin and Martin Persson visited New Zealand and completed their Masters in IT Engineering thesis while on site at AUT University.  This study investigated the subtle distinctions between the notions of space and place in a three dimensional collaborative virtual environment.

Download the master's thesis

Related publication:

  • Hamrin, P., & Persson, M. (2009, 20-21 Nov). Exploring the Notion of Space in Virtual Collaborations: Building for Success in Virtual Teams. Paper presented at the New Zealand Postgraduate Conference, Victoria University, Wellington.

3.  Global Intercultural Collaboration

This project aims to build knowledge and inform practice for those of us wrestling with the new challenges arising from increasingly diverse student bodies, and devising strategies for developing tomorrow’s global professionals through innovative models for global intercultural collaboration.  An initial workshop was held in early 2009 (details can be found here) and a second in 2010 (details can be found here).

Convenors: Tony Clear, Leo Hitchcock, Anders Berglund (Uppsala University)

Related publications:

  • Clear, T. (2011). Replicating an ‘Onshore’ Capstone Computing Project in a ‘Farshore’ Setting – an Experience Report. In M. A. Babar & C. Lescher (Chair), IEEE. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the 6th IEEE International Conference on Global Software Engineering (ICGSE), 2011 Helsinki, Finland.
  • Clear, T., Hitchcock, L., & Berglund, A. (2011). Global Intercultural Collaboration: New Educational Directions in Global Collaborations Between Cultures [Introduction to Special Section: Global Intercultural Collaboration (GIC)]. Journal of Applied Computing and Information Technology, 15(1), I1.
  • Clear, T., Berglund, A., & Hitchcock, L. (2010). Special Section: Global Intercultural Collaboration - Overview. ACM Inroads, 1(3), 32-33.
  • Clear, T. (2010). Exploring the notion of 'cultural fit' in global virtual collaborations. ACM Inroads, 1(3), 58-65.

Related PhD Projects:

  • The Cultural Aspects of Learning Software Engineering

This doctoral study investigates the question: How do different cultural backgrounds influence students’ learning of software engineering (based upon the Runestone project) in global and cross-cultural learning environments?

Candidate: Janet Tong
Supervisors: Tony Clear, Anders Berglund (Uppsala University)

  • Leadership Patterns in Global Virtual Teams

This doctoral study aims to develop a deeper understanding of the Leadership patterns exhibited by Academics and Student team leaders engaged in the GlobCom Project whose goal is to create “the platform of a worldwide intercultural collaboration among students and lecturers in the field of communication /PR”.

Candidate: Averill Gordon
Supervisors: Tony Clear, Stacey Connaughton (Purdue University)

4.  Evolution in Open Source Software Development

This doctoral study aims to better understand the process of evolution of an Open Source software project from inception by observing the patterns that evolve through the iterated lifecycles of a candidate project.  The project aims to develop metrics by which to better track the process of the project, and assess to what extent any predictable process of evolution can be discerned.

Candidate: John Graves
Supervisors: Tony Clear, Stephen MacDonell

5.  Global Requirements & Change Management

This doctoral study aims to develop a deeper understanding of the Requirements Engineering and Requirements Management practices engaged in by global software development practitioners, and the supporting role of collaborative technologies.

Candidate: Waqar Hussain
Supervisors: Tony Clear, Jim Buchan

Related publication:

  • Hussain, W., & Clear, T. (2012, 19 March). GRCM: A Model for Global Requirements Change Management. Paper presented at the meeting of the 2nd International Requirements Engineering Efficiency Workshop (REEW 2012), Essen, Germany.

6.  Framework for Global Software Engineering (GSE) process assessment and improvement

This doctoral study addresses the questions of:

  • What are the best practices, tools, methods and techniques used in GSE?
  • What are the key process areas (KPAs) of globally distributed projects?
  • What improvements/additions need to be made to current GSE software processes to cover those KPAs, and vice versa?
  • Given the above, which metrics should be used to support process assessment and improvement in globally distributed projects?

Candidate: Bilal Raza
Supervisors: Stephen MacDonell, Tony Clear

7.  Collaborative Technologies

This project has aimed to develop a general purpose platform for generating explanograms “a sketch or diagram that students can play with”.  Although explanograms were originally conceived by Arnold Pears as “an animated presentation generated by writing on a sheet of paper”, this project is working to augment the present proprietary paper and digital pen technology available for explanograms, by incorporating a tablet PC as a mobile and general purpose capture platform.

Investigators: Tony Clear, Jacqui Whalley, Robert Wellington, Arnold Pears (Uppsala University)

Projects Available

  • Tablet PC’s and Explanograms software extensions (Tony & Jacqui)
  • Collaborative Technology development in support of Global Software Teams (Tony, Steve)
  • Empirical studies of Collaborative Technologies in Global Software Teams (Tony, Steve)
  • Teamlink (3D virtual world – cyber icebreaker) enhancements (Tony)
  • Technology-use Mediation in Global Software Teams (Tony, Steve)
  • Open Source Software Development Practices & Metrics (Tony, Steve)
  • The structuring of Time and Space in Global Software Teams (Tony, Steve)
  • Empirical studies of Global Software Teams (Tony, Steve)

Selected Publications

  1. Hearns, M., Diener, S., Honey, M., Cockeram, J., Parsons, D., Champion, E., ... Gregory, S. (2011, 4-7 Dec). He ara hou ka tū mai: NZ institutions of higher learning unpacking demands and facilitating change. Paper presented at the meeting of the Ascilite 2011 Conference, Hobart, Tasmania.
  2. Clear, T. (2008). Global Collaboration in Course Delivery: Are We There Yet? SIGCSE Bulletin, 40(2), 11-12.
  3. Clear, T. (2007). Global Virtual Teams and 3D Collaborative Virtual Environments. In J. Hosking (Ed.), Proceedings SIENZ’07 - Software Innovation and Engineering New Zealand Workshop 2007 Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland.
  4. Clear, T. (2004, 2 Nov). Global Virtual Teams: Moderating Behaviour in 3D Collaborative Virtual Environments. Paper presented at the E-Learn 2004 - World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare and Higher Education, Washington, D.C.
  5. Clear, T. (2003, 23 - 28 Jun). Virtual groups, Collaborative Trials and Tribulations. Paper presented at the ED-MEDIA 2003 World Conference On Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia & Telecommunications, Honolulu, Hawaii.
  6. Clear, T., & Daniels, M. (2003, 5-8 Nov, 2003). 2D & 3D Introductory Processes in Virtual Groups. Paper presented at the 33rd ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference., Boulder, Colorado.  Retrieved on 8/11/2003 from
  7. Clear, T., & Kassabova, D. (2008). A Course in Collaborative Computing: Collaborative Learning and Research with a Global Perspective. In M. Guzdial & S. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (pp. 63-67). Portland, Oregon: ACM.
  8. Clear, T., & Kassabova, D. (2005). Motivational Patterns in Virtual Team Collaboration. In A. Young & D. Tolhurst (Eds.), Conferences in Research and Practice in Information Technology (Vol. 42, pp. 51-58). Newcastle.
  9. Clear, T., Whalley, J., Hill, J., Liu, Y., Pears, A., & Plimmer, B. (2008). A Global Software Project: Developing a Tablet PC Capture Platform for Explanograms. Paper presented at the 8th Baltic Sea Conference on Computing Education Research, Koli Calling, Koli, Finland.
  10. Hammon, V. A., & Winston-Bartlett, C. (2009). Participation and Communication in Virtual Teams Using Representational Avatars. Journal of Leadership Studies, 3(3), 53-67.
  11. Thorpe, S. (2008). Enhancing the Effectiveness of Online Groups: An Investigation of Storytelling in the Facilitation of Online Groups. Unpublished PhD Auckland University of Technology, Auckland.
  12. Thorpe, S. (2008). The use of story in building online group relationships. In S. Kelsey & K. S. Amant (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Computer Mediated Communication (pp. 551-569). Hershey, Pennsylvania: Information Science Reference.
  13. Thorpe, S. (2007). Facilitation Online. In D. Hunter (Ed.), The Art of Facilitation (pp. 175-182). Auckland: Random House.