Action in context - context in action : towards a grounded theory of software design
This thesis develops a model and a theory of software design. Thirty-two transcripts of interviews with software designers were analysed using the Grounded Theory method. The first set of sixteen interviews drawn from the field of Digital Interactive Multimedia (Data-set A) was used to develop the model and theory, the second set of sixteen interviews drawn from one source of technical literature (Data-set B) was used to test and enhance the initial outcomes. Final outcomes are then grounded in the general literature on problem solving and design. The model is concerned to capture a rich, holistic picture of software design. It is descriptive rather than prescriptive, concerned to capture how software design is done rather than advocate how it ought to be done. The theory is a development of the model and is presented initially as a theoretical framework and then as a series of propositions. The theoretical framework is a function of the juxtaposition of specific properties or attributes of the "core category", which uniquely explains the phenomenon. Its outcome is four design scenarios. Each scenario is of interest as an explanation of software design practice but two scenarios wherein such practice does not "fit" the design context are of most interest. It is argued that these scenarios can be used to identify and explain design breakdowns. Finally, the thesis purports to explicate the "Meta-process" - the process through which the inductive model and theory was developed. This is an unusual objective for a piece of IS research but valid nonetheless and significant, given the complexity of the research method used and the dearth of good process accounts in the IS literature and elsewhere.