Personality and project success: Insights from a large-scale study with professionals

Xin Xia, David Lo, Lingfeng Bao, Abhishek Sharma, Shanping Li

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A software project is typically completed as a result of a collective effort done by individuals of different personalities. Personality reflects differences among people in behaviour patterns, communication, cognition and emotion. It often impacts relationships and collaborative work, and software engineering teamwork is no exception. Some personalities are more likely to click while others to clash. A number of studies have investigated the relationship between personality and collaborative work success. However, most of them are done in a laboratory setting, do not involve professionals, or consider non software engineering tasks. Additionally, they only answer a limited set of questions, and many other questions remain open. To enrich the existing body of work, we study professionals working on real software projects, answering a new set of research questions that assess linkages between project manager personality and team personality composition and project success. In particular, our study investigates 28 recently completed software projects, which contain a total of 346 professionals, in 2 large IT companies. We asked project members to do a DISC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliant) personality test, and correlated the test outcomes with project success scores measured in six different dimensions. The scores were given by managers of three office as part of their regular day-today work. Our results show that project teams with dominant managers, along with those with more influential members and less dominant members, have higher success scores. This work provides new insights to construct a personality matching strategy that can contribute to building an effective project team.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2017 IEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution, ICSME 2017
Subtitle of host publication19–22 September 2017 Shanghai, China
EditorsLu Zhang, Thomas Zimmermann
Place of PublicationPiscataway NJ USA
PublisherIEEE, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781538609927, 9781538609934
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes
EventIEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution 2017 - Shanghai, China
Duration: 17 Sept 201724 Sept 2017
Conference number: 33rd (Proceedings)


ConferenceIEEE International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution 2017
Abbreviated titleICSME 2017
Internet address


  • Personality
  • Project success
  • Software project
  • Team formation

Cite this