On February 11 2013, I defended my PhD thesis with the title “Improving the Adoption of Software Engineering Practices Through Persuasive Interventions”. Thanks a lot to Felienne who live-blogged my defense talk and the questioning by the committee.
Due to German regulations, having defended my thesis merely meant that I was no longer obligated to correct someone else calling me a doctor. However, I was not allowed to call myself that until I had published it — again, adhering to some regulations. Due to the power of self-publishing / print-on-demand, I obtained several copies of the book and my certificate only 8 days after the defense.
In a nutshell, I examined the influence collaborative software and especially social media can have on the adoption of practices — in my case, software engineering practices. To enable others to leverage the effects I found, I extracted a set of 24 adoption patterns from literature and provide a process that shows how these patterns can be applied systematically.
Here is a short version of the abstract:
Software engineering practices and methodologies can improve software quality and developer productivity. However, they are not always adopted by developers, even when mandated by an organization. There can be different reasons for this: missing motivation, peer pressure, or perceived complexity can prevent successful adoption. This dissertation provides an approach to improve the adoption of software engineering practices by developers that uses non-coercive means. As an augmentation to mandating practices, it uses persuasive, software-based interventions that can facilitate creativity, autonomy, and other crucial factors in software development. To support organizations in designing such interventions, the thesis provides a catalog of adoption patterns: abstract solutions to adoption problems. A systematic and iterative process provides guidance in the application of these patterns to an organization’s situation. An evaluation shows that the process and the adoption patterns are effective.
A note about the name
One might have noted that my dissertation was published by a guy named Leif-Gerrit Singer, not Leif Singer. Yet, that guy is actually me!
My parents originally wanted to call me Gerrit. However, this is a valid name for males as well as for females. Apparently, there is a regulation in Germany that requires a name to be unambiguously either male or female. After I was born, my parents encountered a registrar who insisted on applying this regulation, so they had to add a name that was unambiguously male. They chose Leif. To make sure I’d never use only one of the names, they were required to add a dash to connect the names. Thus, I became Leif-Gerrit Singer.
Up until fourth grade, everyone knew me as Gerrit — even myself. But then I discovered that I had a second name! When the change from elementary school to high school provided me with a fresh start, I began introducing myself as Leif. I’ve used that name ever since, but in official documents, I have to use my full name. As I want to make sure that my dissertation will be accepted as mine by administrative bodies and authorities, I published it as Leif-Gerrit. I’m curious how Google Scholar will handle that. 🙂