University of Twente Student Theses


The effect of product owner behaviour on the observed versus perceived psychological safety of agile team members : an exploratory study

Spekle, A.L. (2022) The effect of product owner behaviour on the observed versus perceived psychological safety of agile team members : an exploratory study.

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Abstract:This thesis offered exploratory insights into the possible influence a prominent role or team member can have on the psychological safety of the team members through video-observation methods. Agile teams are known for their autonomous team and iterative sprints. Considering the team effectiveness of agile teams, we see the state of psychological safety (PS) as a determining factor in the acceptance of agile practices. Psychological safety can be influenced by supportive leadership behaviour, and although, agile teams are an example of self-managing teams, the Product Owner role could potentially be seen as an informal leadership role. This thesis explores how the observed psychological safety behaviour of the PO relates to the observed and perceived psychological safety of the team members. The retrospective meetings of four teams were coded, based on the individual-level PS mean, using the Observer XT to observe the psychological safety behaviour of all team members. The perceived individual-level PS was measured using a 3-item individual-level survey scale. Five episodes were examined for the reactions of team members on unsupportive or defensive behaviour of the PO or another prominent team member. The episode analysis showed voice and collaboration behaviour as a common response. However, the teams with a higher individual-level PS held discussions including multiple team members, whereas in the lower individual-level PS teams the discussion was mostly held between a member and the prominent role or team member. The findings show that a prominent role or team member could set the example of psychological safe behaviour. The findings show artefacts such as the setting (i.e., technology present, sitting or standing) and factors such as team/group climate and meeting designs to potentially influence psychological safety as well, and can therefore be included in future research. This research helped improve an observational method (codebook) to measure psychological safety.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:International Business Administration BSc (50952)
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