Inderscience Publishers

Recycling software - on the road to high performance in software companies

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The present paper demonstrates that within the software industry high performance organisations emerge when software companies exploit the equivocality of the information technology as well as their interpretive capabilities in order to recycle software. The point of departure for the paper is the observation that, for many years, reuse of software objects, etc. has attracted much interest and energy from researchers, engineers and managers within the software industry, primarily because they perceive such reuse as the key to high performance in software development. Ultimately, this idea focuses on creation of software factories, which will improve efficiency in software development and provide managers with more control over the software development process. However, truly successful implementation of the idea has never happened, most likely because its champions solely emphasise technical aspects of the process. We already know that the equivocality of the information technology implies that it can take on many different forms and holds an infinite number of possible and plausible applications. Besides, based on a longitudinal study of software development and new business creation in a rapidly growing software company, this paper shows that rather than focusing on reuse of software objects, software companies must give attention to the possibilities for recycling of software provided by the equivocality of the information technology, if they want to improve performance. Yet, recycling of software is not an easy task, as besides being a matter of mastering technological knowledge, it demands that software companies undertake continuous sense making of the software and, thereby, convince their customers about its usefulness as solutions to their specific needs. When successful then, this process implies that over time software platforms are used for provision of solutions to a variety of needs. To illustrate this idea, the paper traces two software platforms on tour, and it analyses the formulation of new interpretations which facilitate their recycling.

Keywords: equivocality of information technology, high performance, interpretive capabilities, new business creation, recycling software, software industry

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