Tensions and ambidexterity: a case study of an agile project at a government agency
Keywords:agile software development, paradoxical tensions, ambidexterity, government agency
Today’s dynamic business environment must continuously adapt its software development methods to changing technologies and new requirements on the part of customers. Therefore, Agile methods are being used more and more used because they emphasize both flexibility and the ability to change. However, at the same time, the business-driven need for predictability and control remains. The purpose of this case study is to explore and theorize on paradoxical tensions and ambidexterity during an Agile software development project at a government agency. The study empirically examines how tensions and the ambidextrous responses to these tensions are related to Agile values. Data was collected by conducting interviews and studying internal project documents. Four categories of tensions (learning, organizing, performing, and belonging) were used for analytical purposes. The findings suggest that most of the tensions perceived were in the categories of learning and performing. There are, furthermore, several connections
between the ambidextrous responses to these tensions and Agile principles. A deeper understanding of Agile values and principles is required in order to make projects successful. The contribution made by the study, therefore, is of great importance because Agile methods are for leading projects, not only in Agile software development, but also in other industries and sectors.