Research into project team makeup arrives at surprising conclusion

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Samer Faraj, Director, PhD Program

A research paper authored in part by Desautels Professor and Canada Research Chair in Technology, Management, and Healthcare Samer Faraj compared the traditional management style (where the most experienced person is in charge) with the more self-driving teams that are a hallmark of agile systems development.

Neither system is perfect: the highly centralized method creates bottlenecking at the manager as projects become more complex, while the decentralized structure can reduce efficiency due to the sheer number of members who must be in frequent contact.

After studying 71 software development teams in action, the researchers made a surprising discovery: the teams that performed best switched between open and centralized management, depending on the development phase.

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