Research Output
Obstacles and opportunities in implementing large-scale agile project management: Re-positioning activity theory as an analytical tool
  A key challenge facing organisations adopting large-scale Agile delivery methods is that of quickly and effectively learning new ways of working. This thesis posits that fundamental historical, cultural and behavioural aspects will affect the transition, learning and development of new working practices. Activity Theory (AT), a Practice Theory based approach, was selected as an organisational learning approach to examine these elements and was applied to a small Initial Study. The application process and results obtained, revealed issues relating to the validity and consistency of the research approach and the contextualisation of results. This led to the re-examination of Activity Theory and Agile literature resulting in the creation of a consolidated Activity Theory framework (CATF) consisting of several discrete components.

Characteristics and features of an activity were closely defined, and six generic Agile activities identified to structure the examination of organisational practices. A set of evaluation criteria consisting of collaborative activity, contradictions and congruences were established. A Structured Question Set was created and applied to an Agile implementation case study within a large public sector organisation. Data collection consisted of practice observation and thirty-three interviews and analysis was undertaken using qualitative data analysis software.

The contributions of this thesis are that the Practice Theory based approach provides original insight in surfacing the socially constructed, learning and development obstacles when adopting large-scale Agile delivery methods. Using the CATF to identify learning and development issues related to practice, provides useful perspectives that reinforce other approaches and promotes discussion beyond anecdotal and list based viewpoints. In focussing on the obstacles to learning and development of large-scale Agile practices, the CATF provides a structured and layered perspective analogous to a ‘meta’ maturity model without prescribing practices or procedures. The contribution of the CATF is as a diagnostic and analytical tool that is granular, scalable and progressive.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    07 July 2022

  • Publication Status:


  • DOI:


  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Chita, P. S. Obstacles and opportunities in implementing large-scale agile project management: Re-positioning activity theory as an analytical tool. (Thesis). Edinburgh Napier University. Retrieved from


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