Towards an Approach to Prevent Social Loafing in Software Development Teams
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[Background] A high-functioning team is a decisive factor for a successful software development project. However building such a team is not easy. Among many issues and obstacles encountered by teams, social loafing is a common but difficult one to tackle. [Aim] We intend to construct an approach to effectively prevent social loafing behaviors in software development teams. [Method] We built one social loafing prevention approach based on existing literature and survey instruments. It has been applied in an educational context with 2nd-year computer science students working on software development projects in teams. [Results] The approach starts with increasing team members’ awareness of social loafing. Team Expectations Agreement (TEA) is then used to help the team to write down the terms that explicitly prevent social loafing. During the project, a small survey instrument is used to track regularly if the specified terms are followed by the team members. At the end of a period, the presence/absence of social loafing is assessed by the team using another short survey. How to interpret the results of the surveys is explained as part of the presented approach. [Conclusions] This approach has potential to improve teamwork skills of students, which is not adequately addressed in higher education programs. Meanwhile it can be adapted in professional software development environments to prevent social loafing and improve teamwork. The next step of our study will be using the collected data to evaluate the proposed approach, and formulating a set of recommendations to use the approach in the professional software development context.