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    Age stereotypes in distributed software development: The impact of culture on age-related performance expectations

    Context: Due to demographic changes in most developed countries,distributed software development (DSD) teams might suffer new barriers above and beyond the well-known cultural and distance-based challenges. Remarkably, six out of the twelve most important barriers for DSD are related to typical problems induced by both cultural and age diversity.Age stereotypes can hinder communication,trust, knowledge exchange and coordination in software development. They have been studied based on individual level whereas context-related factors such as culture have been less in focus yet.

    Objective:We examine the effects of national and organizational culture on age stereotypes. Therein we explore the conditions and processes that might increase age stereotypes.

    Method:We conducted a quantitative study with 457 employees in two software development companies in China, Germany, Poland and Bulgaria.

    Results:Results show a significant bias in performance expectations favoring middle-aged employees over younger and older employees across national cultures.Stereotypes toward older employees are more negative in Eastern Europe and China than in Germany, while stereotypes toward younger employees are more negative in Germany than in China and Eastern Europe. Lower average team age and lower contact frequency foster stereotypes in China and Eastern Europe. Negative stereotypes can be buffered by an organizational culture which values team achievement and trust over individual performance and control.

    Conclusions:The study advances the literature by integrating value- and schema-based approaches when examining cultural influences, extending the stereotype content model and the situated dynamics framework. Moreover, it may help finding new solutions for human-related problems in DSD based on intangible barriers that hinder development processes.Companies that use DSD might consider reducing age stereotypes in China and Eastern Europe by intensively increasing contact to older workers, including age stereotype aspects into cultural training or by increasing values of team achievement within their organizational culture.


    Schlögel, U, Stegmann, S., Maedche, A. & Van Dick, R. (2018). Age stereotypes in distributed software development: The impact of national and organizational culture on age-related performance expectations. Information and Software Technology , 97, 146-162.

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