Value-based Requirements Engineering: Method and Experience

Alistair Sutcliffe, Sarah Thew

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


‘Socio-political’ issues, such as emotions, values and people’s feelings, are often cited as problems in the RE process. A method is described for analysing such issues. The method consists of a taxonomy of stakeholders’ values, motivations and emotions (VME), with process guidance for eliciting and analysing these issues for the RE process and design implications. Values are personal attitudes or long-term beliefs which may influence stakeholder functional and non-functional requirements. Motivations are psychological constructs related to personality traits which may be viewed as stakeholders’ long-term goals in RE. Emotions are cues to stakeholders’ reactions arising from value/motivation conflicts. The method is supported by a website which illustrates the taxonomy with explanations and scenarios describing problems arising from value conflicts, and from poor understanding of stakeholder values. Two method validation studies were undertaken: first, an evaluation of the website and method by novices and RE experts; and second, case study applications of RE value analysis in real-world industrial practice. The method was used by all practitioners, although in different ways, some used it to create an agenda of issues for analysis while others employed the VMEs to interpret stakeholders’ views and manage stakeholder negotiations. The validation studies provide evidence for the acceptability of the method for industrial practitioners, illustrating how value-related problems are identified and analysed effectively by the method. The utility of analysing VMEs is compared to other ‘socio-political issues’-oriented methods in RE and methods which focus on monetized values in product requirements.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRequirements Engineering
Early online date6 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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