Explaining over-requirement in software development projects: An experimental investigation of behavioral effects

Ofira Shmueli, Nava Pliskin, Lior Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


One of the major risks associated with software development is related to the phenomenon of over-requirement. Also known as over-specification and gold-plating, over-requirement is manifested when a product or a service is specified beyond the actual needs of the customer or the market. In the software development context, we argue in this work that over-requirement is due partially to the emotional involvement of developers with the software features they specify. Similar involvement has been demonstrated for physical items as a result of the endowment, IKEA, and I-designed-it-myself behavioral effects, when people come to overvalue items they possess or self-create. To explore these behavioral effects and the interactions among them in the context of software development, we conducted an experiment in which over 200 participants were asked to specify a nice-to-have software feature. Our results confirm the existence of these behavioral effects in software development and their influence on over-requirement. The findings contribute to theory by explaining the over-requirement phenomenon and by providing insights into behavioral effects in the context of software development. Also practically relevant, the findings can alert managers of software projects to the over-requirement risk evoked by the behavioral effects explored in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-394
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Project Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015


  • Demands-abilities fit
  • Endowment effect
  • Experiment
  • Gold-plating
  • I-designed-it-myself effect
  • IKEA effect
  • Over-requirement
  • Over-specification
  • Software development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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