Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Business Administration

Major Professor

Rosann Web Collins, Ph.D.


Control theory, Dynamic capabilities, Software development methods, Flexibility


Control and flexibility may appear an unlikely pair. However, I propose that effective management of dynamic environments, such as systems development under conditions of uncertainty, must still provide clear control mechanisms to manage the progress and quality of the resulting products. This dissertation presents research to understand the types of control used in the context of flexible software development processes. The dynamic capabilities extension to the resource-based view of the firm is used to understand dynamic environments. Within those environments, control theory is used to understand how activities are guided and controlled to achieve management objectives. Specifically, control theory acts as a lens to contrast the control mechanisms found in plan-driven and flexible processes. I extend current thinking to include emergent outcome controls for team coordination in a taxonomy of control mechanisms. These phenomena are studied through a qualitative field study. The results show that organizations will choose more flexible management approaches as uncertainty increases, and that more controlled-flexible approaches managed with emergent outcome controls will lead to better outcomes than uncontrolled, ad hoc approaches.