Looking for Peace of Mind? Manage your (Technical) Debt - An Exploratory Field Study
Paper i proceeding, 2017

Background: In the last two decades Technical Debt (TD) has received a considerable amount of attention from software engineering research and practice. Recently, a small group of studies suggests that, in addition to its technical and economic consequences, TD can affect developers’ psychological states and morale. However, until now there has been a lack of empirical research clarifying such influences. Aims: In this study, we aim at taking the first step in filling this gap by investigating the potential impacts of TD and its management on developers’ morale. Method: Drawing from previous literature on morale, we decided to explore the influence of TD and its management on three dimensions of morale called affective, future/goal, and interpersonal antecedents. In so doing, we conducted an exploratory field study and collected data from software professionals active in different industrial domains through eight qualitative interviews and an online survey (n=33). Results: Our results indicate that TD mainly has a negative influence on future/goal and affective antecedents of morale. This is mainly because the occurrence of TD hinders developers from performing their tasks and achieving their goals. TD management, on the other hand, has a positive influence on all the three dimensions of morale since it is associated with positive feelings and interpersonal feedback as well as a sense of progress. Conclusions: According to the results of this empirical study, the occurrence of TD reduces developers’ morale, while its management increases developers’ morale.

Technical Debt

Exploratory Field Study

Behavioral Software Engineering




Hadi Ghanbari

Terese Besker

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Software Engineering

Antonio Martini

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Software Engineering

Jan Bosch

Chalmers, Data- och informationsteknik, Software Engineering

International Symposium on Empirical Software Engineering and Measurement

19493770 (ISSN) 19493789 (eISSN)


Data- och informationsvetenskap




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