Stop whining, start doing! Identity conflict in project managed software environments

Article English OPEN
Case, P. ; Pineiro, E. (2009)
  • Publisher: University of Leicester and University of Essex

In this article we explore the relationship between software developers and IT project managers as expressed through narrative exchanges in an on-line discussion forum. We interrogate a naturalistic data set to show how the conflict between IT professionals and their immediate managers (project managers) is manifest through the identity work that they engage in. To this end, the article draws attention to strategies of resistance and dissent expressed in the narratives of software developers, contrasting these with the performative expectations espoused by project managers. The purpose is to contribute to a critique of project management stemming from the grassroots experience of those involved in its co-construction. While it is difficult to be precise about the demographics of the community studied (given the anonymity of bulletin board forums), the views of several hundred participants are represented in the discussion threads analysed. In response to the performative environments and disciplines of project management, programmers make recourse to performative strategies (in an Austinian sense) that preserve their status, sense of professional identity and organizational power. The aesthetics of programming appear to play an important part in the expression of programmers’ identity; aesthetics which contrast, and are in conflict with, different forms of performative aesthetics present in the identity work of project managers.
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