Managing conflict in user-oriented development environments: Effects on information systems success

J. Martin Santana, Florida International University


Today, many organizations are turning to new approaches to building and maintaining information systems (I/S) to cope with a highly competitive business environment. Current anecdotal evidence indicates that the approaches being used improve the effectiveness of software development by encouraging active user participation throughout the development process. Unfortunately, very little is known about how the use of such approaches enhances the ability of team members to develop I/S that are responsive to changing business conditions. Drawing from predominant theories of organizational conflict, this study develops and tests a model of conflict among members of a development team. The model proposes that development approaches provide the relevant context conditioning the management and resolution of conflict in software development which, in turn, are crucial for the success of the development process. Empirical testing of the model was conducted using data collected through a combination of interviews with I/S executives and surveys of team members and business users at nine organizations. Results of path analysis provide support for the model's main prediction that integrative conflict management and distributive conflict management can contribute to I/S success by influencing differently the manifestation and resolution of conflict in software development. Further, analyses of variance indicate that object-oriented development, when compared to rapid and structured development, appears to produce the lowest levels of conflict management, conflict resolution, and I/S success. The proposed model and findings suggest academic implications for understanding the effects of different conflict management behaviors on software development outcomes, and practical implications for better managing the software development process, especially in user-oriented development environments.

Subject Area

Management|Information Systems

Recommended Citation

Santana, J. Martin, "Managing conflict in user-oriented development environments: Effects on information systems success" (1997). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9726723.