Academic Papers

Agile practices and organizational agility in software ecosystems

(with Spagnoletti, P. e Kazemargi, N.), IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management

As software products increasingly become part of larger ecosystems, research and development (R&D) units of software producers organize themselves around projects to become more responsive to the environment. Organizations participating in software ecosystems must continuously adapt and adjust their software development and maintenance processes to drive both medium-term and long-term innovation. Agile methods and practices are widely adopted to guide the collaboration within and between project teams in software development. Moreover, when successfully attained, agility can drive innovation by enabling software development organizations to cope with technological changes and to exploit emerging opportunities in software ecosystems. This study focuses on how organizations attain agility in the maintenance and development of software products. To answer this question, we conduct a longitudinal case study of Agile Scrum implementation in the R&D unit of a major supplier of telecommunication equipment. We investigate the emerging tensions and highlight practices used to balance these tensions in the Agile Scrum implementation. We identify four capabilities and ten practices that support effective collaboration and coordination in the development and maintenance of software products. The study offers practical guidance for R&D managers to attain agility in software ecosystems.

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The Effect of Role-Based Product Representations on Individual and Team Coordination Practices: A Field Study of a Globally Distributed New Product Development Team

(with Mattarelli, E., Bertolotti, F. and Gupta, A.), Organization Science

The investigation of the appealing indication that a modular product architecture is best associated to a loosely coupled organizational structure—that is, the mirroring hypothesis—has produced contradictory evidence, especially in the dynamic and ambiguous context of new product development. By integrating modularity theory and product-representation theories, we investigate how individual agency affects coordination in teams developing modular products. We conducted a field study of Flower-Net, a globally distributed team in a major IT company, engaged with the development of a modular software using agile practices. Our grounded model shows that, whereas top managers defined the product as modular and coordinated work accordingly, individuals developed different representations of the product’s architecture and conflicting individual coordination practices. We traced the individual development of product architecture representations back to the individual interpretations of organizational roles as more or less “segmented.” Conflicting individual practices, associated to different role-based product representations, were not addressed by the team—that developed a state of illusory concordance—and impaired the functioning of the team. This study contributes to the literature on modularity and the mirroring hypothesis by proposing individual role-based representations as an underexplored level of analysis for the matching between product and organizational modularity (Mirroring Hypothesis II). It also contributes to the debate on how representations affect team coordination, by detailing how role-based product representations can influence team members’ divergence and sustain illusory concordance.

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Impact of IT offerings strategies and IT integration capability on IT vendor value creation

While IT integration is recognised as an important capability, the mechanisms through which it creates value and the contingencies that delimit its effectiveness are unclear – particularly, in the case of firms that deliver solutions embodying both products and services. We focus on IT vendors to investigate the effectiveness of IT integration capability with respect to three aspects of IT solution offerings: breadth, modularity and customisation. We find a complementarity effect between IT integration capability and management of the IT offer strategy: IT integration is fundamental regardless of whether the firm relies on customisation or a broad set of heterogeneous knowledge bases. However, when IT vendors adopt a modular design strategy, IT integration is made redundant and can be counterproductive.

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Is there a supreme being controlling the universe Entrepreneurs’ personal beliefs and their impact on network learning

(with Ceci, F.), International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business

Entrepreneurs’ personal beliefs determine how external information, conditions and stimuli are filtered, interpreted and incorporated into a decision, which has a profound impact on firm performance. Spirituality, one of the most prominent aspects of personal beliefs, derives from the effects of both personal and social religious practices and confidence about the existence of a supreme being. Based on primary data collected from members of an association of firms that share the same principles and values, this paper analyses the effect that the entrepreneur’s personal beliefs have on the possibility to learn from the network and, therefore, improve his or her firm’s performance. We find that the effect of shared beliefs on network-based learning is positively mediated by the cultural compatibility, creativity and sense of identity of the entrepreneurs in the network.

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Divide to connect: Reorganization through R&D unit spinout as linking context of intra-corporate networks

(with Cirillo, B. e Breschi, S.), Research Policy, 2018, 47, 9, pp. 1585-1600

The paper examines the formation of clique-spanning ties in intra-corporate co-invention networks, by focusing on the impact of R&D unit spinouts. Using data on thirty-one spinouts in eight large U.S. information and communication technology corporations, we show that the reorganization of R&D units through corporate spinouts is associated with an increase in the extent to which inventors employed in the unit collaborate with inventors located in other cliques within the corporate co-invention network. Interestingly, the spinout effect spills over to all members of the clique of spun-out inventors, also including those who remain with the parent firm. The interpretation of these empirical findings, grounded on existing theories and on the views of inventors and executives involved in the reorganization events, suggests that corporate spinouts generate a shock in intra-corporate research collaboration dynamics, which loosens clique lock-in effects and contributes to reset cliques’ boundaries in the intra-corporate research network.

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