Communications Project

Document Type:Dissertation
Name:K. Todd Stevens
Title:The Effects of Roles and Personality Characteristics on Software Development Team Effectiveness
Degree:Doctor of Philosophy
Department:Computer Science
Committee Chair: Sallie Henry
Committee Members:Dennis G. Kafura
Mary Beth Rosson
John A. Lewis
Eric P. Smith
Lance Matheson
Keywords:empirical studies, software engineering, team formation, team evaluation, roles, software psychology
Date of defense:March 20, 1998
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


The objective of this research is to show the utility of roles and personality characteristics to the evaluation and formation of software development teams. The goals of this research include demonstrating empirically that Belbin's team roles can be used to form and evaluate software teams, providing a partial validation of the analyses by using the Belbin roles to analyze teams from the software industry, and comparing the personality data collected for this research to data from two previous studies and to the general population.

In the highly competitive software industry, improving the software development process can be critical to a company's success. More specifically, improving a team's productivity can save employers significant time and money. This investigation addresses the productivity of software development teams in a series of studies. First, controlled studies empirically show that Belbin's roles can be used in team formation to improve team performance. Second, additional studies, both qualitative and quantitative, demonstrate that Belbin's roles can be used as criteria in team evaluation and formation. Finally, teams from the software development industry are evaluated, providing a partial validation of the usefulness of Belbin's roles to software teams.

The cumulative effect of the results of the studies in this investigation demonstrate that Belbin's roles can be used effectively in team formation and evaluation. Specifically, Belbin's roles for leadership and innovation are shown in empirical studies to be important in the formation of software teams, and all of the Belbin roles are used in the evaluation of teams in academia as well as in industry.

The results of this investigation should be used in team formation and evaluation, in an academic setting as well as in the software development industry. For team evaluation, deficiencies uncovered in the Belbin roles should be remedied, and positive aspects should be encouraged. In team formation, teams should contain the complement of Belbin roles and should specifically contain the leadership and innovation roles focused on as part of this investigation. It is clear from this investigation that Belbin's roles can be used effectively to improve software development teams.

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