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Will They Report It? Ethical Attitude of Graduate Software Engineers in Reporting Bad News


Publication Type:

Conference/Workshop Paper


25th IEEE Conference on Software Engineering Eduaction and Training




Hiding critical information has resulted in disastrous failures of some major software projects. This paper investigates, using a subset of Keil’s test, how graduates (70% of them with work experience) from different cultural backgrounds who are enrolled in a postgraduate course on global software development would handle negative information that is critical in a project. The subjects were mainly from Europe and Asia. The results showed that the subjects are highly likely to report critical information to their immediate supervisors (t(36)=-11, p<0.0005), but are undecided on whether they would take the matter further up the organisational hierarchy if the supervisor ignored their report. There was no significant difference between participants of different regions, or between those with and without work experience. The consequences of negative information not reaching the level where remedial actions can be taken could be serious in software projects. The results of this experiment point to the need to incorporate in software engineering curriculum the teaching of the ethical responsibility of effective communication of bad news.


author = {Abdulkadir Sajeev and Ivica Crnkovic},
title = {Will They Report It? Ethical Attitude of Graduate Software Engineers in Reporting Bad News},
month = {April},
year = {2012},
booktitle = {25th IEEE Conference on Software Engineering Eduaction and Training},
publisher = {IEEE},
url = {}