Instant messaging in Global software teams

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Instant Messaging (IM) has been strictly forbidden in some companies as an unproductive use of time and exists in others via unsanctioned employee actions without explicit approval or directive from upper management. This paper examines a set of globally distributed software teams in a company that has explicitly installed and integrated IM capabilities with its collaboration management tools. Through a set of semi-structured interviews and the application of adaptive structuration theory, this study finds that because of the unique characteristics of global software development, IM is a highly useful tool for maintaining team cohesiveness and supporting team communication. Although the study finds strong support for the value of IM, it also identifies that the time distributed nature of the work, the informality of the medium as it interacts with different cultures and the productivity loss from IM's interruptive nature are problematic. A set of recommendations is made to address these problems. The paper concludes that IM is a useful tool for global software development and its advantages outweigh its problems. Copyright © 2010, IGI Global.

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International Journal of e-Collaboration

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