We presented our TSE 2019 paper that describes a theory of developer productivity and satisfaction at ICSE 2020, the International Conference on Software Engineering, scheduled for Seoul, Korea. The research in this paper followed a three month sabbatical I spent working with the 1ES (one engineering system) at Microsoft in 2017 (lead by Jacek Czerwonka), collaborating with colleagues from Microsoft Research (Brendan Murphy, Tom Zimmermann and Chris Bird). A brief overview of the survey is shown below. Our online supplemental materials include the survey instrument.

A Theory of Developer Satisfaction and Perceived Productivity


Towards a Theory of Software Developer Job Satisfaction and Perceived Productivity


Margaret-Anne Storey, Thomas Zimmermann, Christian Bird, Jacek Czerwonka, Brendan Murphy and Eirini Kalliamvakou


Developer satisfaction and work productivity are important considerations for software companies. Enhanced developer satisfaction may improve the attraction, retention and health of employees, while higher productivity should reduce costs and increase customer satis- faction through faster software improvements. Many researchers and companies assume that perceived productivity and job satisfaction are related and may be used as proxies for one another, but these claims are a current topic of debate. There are also many social and technical factors that may impact satisfaction and productivity, but which factors have the most impact is not clear, especially for specific development contexts. Through our research, we developed a theory articulating a bi-directional relationship between software developer job satisfaction and perceived productivity, and identified what additional social and technical factors, challenges and work context variables influence this relationship. The constructs and relationships in our theory were derived in part from related literature in software engineering and knowledge work, and we validated and extended these concepts through a rigorously designed survey instrument. We instantiate our theory with a large software company, which suggests a number of propositions about the relative impact of various factors and challenges on developer satisfaction and perceived productivity. Our survey instrument and analysis approach can be applied to other development settings, while our findings lead to concrete recommendations for practitioners and researchers.


M. Storey, T. Zimmermann, C. Bird, J. Czerwonka, B. Murphy and E. Kalliamvakou, “Towards a Theory of Software Developer Job Satisfaction and Perceived Productivity,” in IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, doi: 10.1109/TSE.2019.2944354. A preprint of our paper can be downloaded from this link.

Slides from our short presentation at ICSE:

Towards a Theory of Developer Satisfaction and Productivity from Margaret-Anne Storey

Video of our talk at ICSE 2020:

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Margaret-Anne Storey



Margaret-Anne Storey

Professor of Computer Science, University of Victoria
Canada Research Chair in Human and Social Aspects of Software Engineering

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