What do we know about developer motivation?

Hall, Tracy; Sharp, Helen; Beecham, Sarah; Baddoo, Nathan and Robinson, Hugh (2008). What do we know about developer motivation? IEEE Software, 25(4) pp. 92–94.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1109/MS.2008.105


Software developers do better work and stay with one company if they’re motivated—indeed, evidence exists that developer motivation affects project productivity, software quality, and a project’s overall success. By improving how they manage software developers’ motivations, companies could significantly improve their ability to deliver good-quality software systems.
To explore what we know about what motivates developers, we systematically analyzed 92 studies on software developer motivation published between 1980 and 2006. Our analysis shows that motivation influences many important aspects of project success. Timely project delivery, productivity, and adherence to budgets, as well as increases in staff retention and reduced absenteeism, are all related to motivation. Our analysis also shows that controlling these factors isn’t straightforward.

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