Chapter 6: International Perspective on Software


Chapter 6: International Perspective on Software

Introduction

In this chapter, the field of software engineering is examined from an international perspective. In a way, the scope of this chapter is similar to the scope of Chapter 5, Code of Ethics of Software Engineering. In both chapters, the focus is on the community of software engineers beyond the team and the organization framework. Specifically, in this chapter, we explore the influence of certain events on the global high-tech economy and the nature of software engineering in several places on the globe. In addition, we discuss related topics, such as gender and minorities in the high-tech industry.



Objectives

  • Readers will become aware of the potential influence of local events on the global high-tech industry.

  • Readers will become familiar with the characteristics of software engineering processes in different places around the world.

  • Readers will increase their awareness of the influence of different cultures on software engineering processes.

  • Readers will become familiar with topics related to gender and minorities in the high-tech culture.



Study Questions

  1. What characteristics make software engineering a suitable topic to be discussed from an international perspective?

  2. Select three countries and search the Web for information about their high-tech economy. In what ways is the high-tech culture in these countries similar? In what ways is it different?

  3. If you had the option to establish a software house anywhere on the globe, what considerations would you address during the decision-making process? How would each of these considerations influence your decision?

  4. Assume that your company has two sites in two different countries. How will you share development between the two sites? What communication channels between the two sites will you establish?

  5. After the September 11 terror attack on the United States, the Pew Internet & American Life Project published the following report: The commons of the tragedy: How the Internet was used by millions after the terror attacks to grieve, console, share news, and debate the country s response.

    Read the report at www.pewinternet.org/ reports / pdfs /PIP_Tragedy_Report.pdf . How would you explain the facts it presents ?

  6. Identify three additional events that had a global influence on the high-tech industry. Describe the influence of each event.



Relevance for Software Engineering

Since many software development companies are international firms, it is important that software engineers be aware of different cultures in general and of different cultures of software development in particular. A general discussion about cultural differences is beyond the scope of this book. Thus, this chapter focuses on two countries ”India and Israel ”that are unique in some sense with respect to the software market. Specifically, we describe cultural factors that may explain the success of the high-tech industry in these countries. Our aim is to highlight the fact that software development may be influenced by local and cultural characteristics. We believe that the more software engineers are aware of such topics and consider them when they cooperate with people from other countries and/or cultures, the more fruitful their software development processes become.

A topic closely related to multiple cultures in the information technology professions is gender and minorities. As it turns out, in many countries women are underrepresented in the high-tech field. Since a lot of research has been conducted so far with respect to this topic, in this chapter we present the main findings of the research and present reasons that may explain this situation. The relevance of this topic to software engineering is as follows : because the software engineering area is still evolving, the people who participate in its development may have a significant influence on its future. If our intention is to expand the population who uses software products, it is reasonable to assume that the more diverse the developer population becomes, the bigger the population that software products fit will become.

In this chapter, we do not merely focus on software engineering, but examine the topic from the wider perspective of the Information Technology (IT) market, and sometimes even from the perspective of the entire high-tech industry. It is clear, however, that the impact of the topics discussed in this chapter with respect to the IT and high-tech fields have direct implications on software engineering processes.