Spearheading agile: the role of the scrum master in agile projects

Yogeshwar Shastri, Rashina Hoda, Robert Amor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Scrum innovated the role of the scrum master in software engineering. The scrum master is envisioned in agile literature as the “servant leader” who serves the team in a multitude of different ways, which include promoting scrum, facilitating the team’s functioning, and removing obstacles. However, empirical studies focusing on the role of the scrum master in practice are scarce. To address this gap, a Grounded Theory study with a mixed methods approach was carried out which included semi-structured interviews with 39 software practitioners and a questionnaire with 47 respondents. In this study, we present and describe the scrum master’s role in agile projects in terms of (a) the grounded theory of the role of the scrum master which involves everyday activities of facilitating, mentoring, negotiating, process adapting, coordinating, and protecting; (b) the varying involvement of the scrum master in selected agile practices carried out by the team; and (c) a positive association between the presence of the scrum master and the frequency with which agile practices are carried out by the team. This study presents for the first time a multifaceted study of the multiple dimensions of the scrum master role and will enable practitioners to better manage expectations of this role in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages31
JournalEmpirical Software Engineering
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2021


  • Agile
  • Agile project management
  • Agile software development
  • Grounded theory
  • Mixed methods
  • Scrum
  • Scrum master

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