Explaining Agility with a Process Theory of Change


While agile approaches have been widely adopted, our theoretical understanding of their foundations and impacts remains limited. This is due to conflating two entirely different meanings of “agile.” We therefore unpack these two meanings and present our tentative understanding as a process theory. The theory posits that agility emerges from a dialectic interplay between recognizing and responding to needs for changes. Meanwhile, rather than directly affecting success, agility moderates the negative effects of need for change on success. Viewing agility this way helps address the research-practice gap by highlighting the need for skepticism of methods and practices, and by suggesting practically relevant research questions.

Michael Wufka
Department of Computing Science and Information Systems
Douglas College
New Westminster, Canada

Paul Ralph
Department of Computer Science
University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand