Date of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Management of Information System and Technology, PhD


School of Information Systems and Technology

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Gondy Leroy

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Lorne Olfman

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Michelle Bligh

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2010 Carol Kernitzki Gonzales


Appreciative Inquiry, requirements elicitation, action research, participatory research, case study

Subject Categories

Graphics and Human Computer Interfaces | Library and Information Science | Psychology | Software Engineering | Technology and Innovation


Many software development projects fail because they do not meet the needs of users, are over-budget, and abandoned. To address this problem, the user requirements elicitation process was modified based on principles of Appreciative Inquiry. Appreciative Inquiry, commonly used in organizational development, aims to build organizations, processes, or systems based on success stories using a hopeful vision for an ideal future. Spanning five studies, Appreciative Inquiry was evaluated for its effectiveness with eliciting user requirements. In the first two cases, it was compared with traditional approaches with end-users and proxy-users. The third study was a quasi-experiment comparing the use of Appreciative Inquiry in different phases of in the software development cycle. The final two case studies combined all lessons learned using Appreciative Inquiry, with multiple case studies to gain additional understanding for the requirements gathered during various project phases. Each study evaluated the requirements gathered, developer and user attitudes, and the Appreciative Inquiry process itself. Requirements were evaluated for the quantity and their type regardless of whether they were implemented or not. Attitudes were evaluated for process feedback, as well as requirements and project commitment. The Appreciative Inquiry process was evaluated with differing groups, projects, and project phases to determine how and when it is best applied. Potentially interceding factors were also evaluated including: team effectiveness, emotional intelligence, perceived stress, the experience of the facilitator, and the development project type itself. Appreciative Inquiry produced positive results for the participants, the requirements obtained, and the general requirements eliciting-process. Appreciative Inquiry demonstrated benefits to the requirements gathered by increasing the number of unique requirements as well as identifying more quality-based (non-functional) and forward-looking requirements. It worked well with defined projects, when there was time for participants to reflect on the thought-provoking questions, structured questions and extra time to facilitate the extraction and translation of requirements, and a knowledgeable interviewer. The participants (end-users and developers) expressed improved vision and confidence. End-users participated consistently with immediate buy-in and enthusiasm, especially those users who were technically-inhibited. Development teams expressed improved confidence, and improved user communication and understanding.