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    Age stereotypes in agile software development – an empirical study on performance expectations

    Purpose– Research on agile software development (ASD) has so far primarily focused on processes and tools. Recently, researchers have started to investigate the social dimensions of ASD. We contribute to this and examine the largely invisible psychological factor of age stereotypes as one important social dimension of ASD. Driven by demographic change, employees of different age groups will need to work closely together in ASD in the future. However, age stereotypes can hinder many aspects of communication, cooperation and coordination in these self-managed teams. We identify and differentiate age stereotypes in ASD.

    Design/methodology/approach – A quantitative survey at the individual level was conducted with 464 employees in two software development (SD) companies. We developed an age stereotype model for ASD and developed two scales to measure performance expectations in ASD.

    Findings– Employees in ASD show a bias in general performance expectations, favoring middle-aged employees over both younger and older employees. The perceived performance expectation of a developer decrease over working life. Furthermore, the data show a complex interplay of age and job role in both the research participants and the group evaluated. Younger developers hold the strongest negative age stereotypes and older developers suffer most from stereotypes.

    Practical implications– Management should enact formal or informal measures against stereotypes when an older or younger employee joins a team of members of other age groups, or when a new team is formed. In addition, we propose human resources to create permeable career paths.

    Originality/value– The study extends the stereotype content model by adding additional age groups and including job role as a moderating variable. It identifies obstacles in daily employee interactions in agile development, and proposes ways of incorporating invisible psychological aspects in ASD-specific theories.


    Schlögel, U., Stegmann, S., Maedche, A. & Van Dick, R. (2018). Age stereotypes in agile software development – an empirical study on performance expectations. Information Technology & People, 31, 41-62. DOI:10.1108/ITP-07-2015-0186.

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