oa South African Journal of Information Management - Knowledge-creation in student software-development teams : original research

Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 2078-1865
  • E-ISSN: 1560-683X



Knowledge-creation is a field of study that has gained popularity in recent times. Knowledge-creation is the creation of new ideas or new innovations. In computing, software-development is regarded as knowledge-creation. This is because software-development involves the creation of a new innovation (software). Knowledge-creation studies in this field tend to focus mainly on knowledge-creation activities in business organisations. They use experienced, professional software-development teams as subjects, largely ignoring novice student development teams. This has denied the field of computing valuable knowledge about how novice teams create knowledge.

The study addressed this gap in the literature by investigating knowledge-creation in student software teams.
An ethnographic study was conducted on six student teams developing software in a management-information systems (MIS) course. They were conducting a systems-development project at a university during a term of study. Data were collected over a period of four months through participant observation and interviews.
The results reveal knowledge-creation activities such as problem definition, brainstorming, programming and system documentation. Students use the Internet, books, class notes, class presentations, senior students and professional software developers as sources of information. Mobile phones and BlackBerry devices facilitate knowledge-creation. Challenges to knowledge-creation are the lack of material and financial resources, a lack of technical skills, a lack of time, students staying off-campus and ambivalent team members.
The conclusion drawn from this study is that student teams are capable of creating knowledge (a working system) just like professional teams, but the knowledge-creation process is slightly different.

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