Barriers to Learning in Agile Software Development Projects

Jeffry S. Babb, Rashina Hoda, and Jacob Nørbjerg

Research Paper


The adoption of agile methods promises many advantages for individual, team, and organizational learning. However, environmental, structural, and organizational/cultural constraints often find teams adapting agile software development methods rather than engaging in full adoption. We present results from two quantitative studies of teams and organizations that have, in many cases, adapted agile software methods to suit their needs through the omission or alternation of aspects of the method. In many cases, aspects of an agile method that is most related to learning were those that were modified or omitted. This paper utilizes the results of these studies to identify common and emergent barriers to learning. Often these barriers to learning exist according to organizational culture and the extent to which that culture influences attitudes, norms, and behaviors pertaining to learning. We present these barriers to learning and provide insight to the causes, effects, and potential ameliorations for these barriers.



Jacob Nørbjerg is an Associate Professor at the Department of IT Management, Copenhagen Business School. His research is directed towards the organization and management of systems development, and software process improvement. He currently works on a project about software development practices in very small companies. Much of his research is carried out in close collaboration with industrial partners.

Department of IT Management, Copenhagen Business School, 60 Howitzvej, 2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark,

Further Authors


Jeffry Stephen Babb is an Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems in the College of Business at West Texas A&M University. He has a PhD in Information Systems from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. His research interests are in software systems development, small-team development, mobile applications development, and information systems security.

Department of Computer Information and Decision Management, West Texas A&M University, 2403 Russell Long Blvd. Canyon, Texas USA, 79016,


Dr. Rashina Hoda leads the SEPTA research group in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at The University of Auckland, New Zealand. Her research interests include Agile software development, self-organizing teams, and software project management. Rashina received her PhD in Computer Science from Victoria University of Wellington, NZ. More:

Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Auckland, 38 Princes St, Auckland, New Zealand,