Communication Media Choice in Globally Distributed Software Projects

Tuomas Jaanu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


The topic for this thesis is to study the communication media choice in globally distributed software projects. This thesis is based on both qualitative data collected from interviews of software professionals working in globally distributed software projects, as well as analysis of communication patterns in such projects. The approach is to evaluate perceived communication media choice and use to understand how communication media is chosen in globally distributed software projects, how the choice affects the projects and teams, and whether particularly good media choice could lead to better outcomes in distributed projects. This thesis will also analyse the communication media choice and use using media choice theories, most notably Media Synchronicity Theory, and assess if the findings are aligned with the predictions of the theory as well as previous research on the area. Main findings in this thesis includes the assessment of which communication media are most commonly used in globally distributed software projects, for which tasks, and by whom. The findings also highlight important organizational factors and individual preferences on communication media use, such as language skills and organizational role, which affect both preference to use a particular communication media as well as the satisfaction and efficiency in using the tool. Furthermore, the findings are brought into a larger context in discussion about the relationship between communication tool choice and project satisfaction and communication efficiency. This thesis aims to provide both practical advice for globally distributed software teams and theoretical guidelines for future research. The contribution for practitioners of this research is to organize and make visible all the factors affecting media choice, and by raising awareness of such factors, aim to improve the overall quality, satisfaction and performance of globally distributed software teams. For future research, this research contributes by both providing confirming evidence on some of the core propositions of Media Synchronicity Theory, as well as pointing out additional factors less pronounced in the current research.
Translated title of the contributionViestintävälineiden valinta kansainvälisesti hajautetuissa ohjelmistoprojekteissa
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Lassenius, Casper, Supervising Professor
  • Paasivaara, Maria, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7696-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7697-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • global software development
  • media choice
  • communication
  • software projects


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