An ethnographically-informed analysis of the influence of culture on global software-testing practice
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There have been fewer studies performed to understand real-world software-testing practice than for other areas of software engineering, such as software requirements, design and development. In particular, surprisingly little is known about global software-testing practices---the practice of outsourcing testing activities to a company offshore---which is currently a large industry and is continuing to grow rapidly. Hence, it is important to study this practice. Moreover, research and anecdotal records provide evidence suggesting that cultural factors greatly impact aspects of the global software-engineering practice (e.g., quality and productivity). The evidence indicates that culture appears to have a greater influence on global software-engineering practice than originally envisioned. Thus, it is important to understand culture's influence particularly on the global-software testing practice. Most of the global software practice studies have used the cultural-dimensions (e.g., Hofstede's dimensions) approach to understand culture’s influence on this practice. However, such dimensional perspectives of culture significantly limit the meaning of culture. Hence, it is important to study culture's influence on global software-testing practice by adopting a non-dimensional perspective of culture so that hidden cultural facets can be identified and uncovered. In this dissertation research, I conducted three ethnographically-informed studies at different Indian vendor organizations, who provided software-testing services to their respective clients in a global setting, to better understand what and how cultural factors influence the global software-testing practice. I used the “culture as models” perspective, adapted from the cultural anthropologist Bradd Shore, to analyze the data from these studies. The dissertation provides a detailed description of the study design, the data analysis, and the insights that emerged from the study. The study provided insights into four embedded cultural models that have emerged from this practice---Agreement, Trust, Flexibility, and Global Software Delivery Cultural Models -- which are described and discussed in detail. This dissertation makes the following contributions. First, it describes a framework that facilitates conducting culture-based studies in the global software- engineering domain. Second, it exposes significant cultural models that are embodied in the specific global software-testing practices investigated to better understand the affordances and clashes of cultural facets of such practices more widely. Third, it presents a ``thick description'' of the role and interplay of these cultural facets in the global software-testing practices investigated. Finally, based on the study insights, the dissertation provides implications for practice and future research.