The Role of Worker Tenure and Employment Heterogeneity on Software Development Work Activities

Jeff Crawford, Lori N. K. Leonard, Kiku Jones


Software development group effectiveness depends on many factors, and understanding those factors is vital to project success, especially when considering the time and money that is dedicated to said projects. Therefore, this study examines the role of worker tenure and employment heterogeneity on exploration and exploitation work completed within an organization’s software development group. Analysis of time tracking data within one financial services organization over a three years period demonstrates that worker tenure and employment heterogeneity do play an important role in shaping work activities. Worker tenure exhibited a negative relationship with exploration and exploitation activities, suggesting a critical mechanism through which an organization can elicit innovative and incremental development efforts. Further, the positive effect of employment heterogeneity on exploration and exploitation suggests that employment diversity can also provide a means to encourage innovative and incremental development activities. Findings highlight the notion that group composition plays a meaningful role in shaping the focus of software development work within an organization.


software development; exploration; exploitation; worker tenure; employment heterogeneity

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