Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Learning Sciences and Human Development

Committee Chair

Van Dempsey.


This study, using a grounded theory methodology, analyzed data collected from software developers and IT professionals on software process improvement (SPI) adoption. The study is presented within a backdrop of organizational change steps described by John P. Kotter in his 1996 book, Leading Change. Software quality problems and failures have caused many financial losses, injuries, and even deaths. In the mid 1980s, as a means of mitigating these problems, the Department of Defense (DoD) and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) began work on the Capability Maturity Model (CMMRTM) In 2001, the model was superseded by a more robust model, the Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMIRTM) These models were designed to provide descriptive, key process improvement areas for organizations to achieve greater maturity in their software and systems development. Organizations could then be appraised at specific maturity levels. According to CMU, SPI improves quality and reliability of software products. The DoD and several organizations now require companies to be appraised at a certain maturity level prior to being awarded a contract. From the onset, there have been difficulties in the adoption of these SPI models. Some of these difficulties can be attributed to organizational change issues. Through grounded theory analysis, a substantive theory was developed, The Theory of Software Process Improvement Model Adoption. This theory contributes to the body of knowledge by providing data and analysis from numerous IT professionals and software developers. This study also provides suggested key organizational change concerns for better SPI adoption practices.