Culture and Information Systems

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Culture and Information Systems

Culture and Information Systems

Levels of culture. Source: Adapted from D. Leidner and T. Kayworth, “A Review of Culture in Information Systems Research: Toward a Theory of Information Technology Culture Conflict,“ MIS Quarterly 30, no. 2 (2006), 372, Figure 1.

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c03.indd 67 11/30/2015 7:25:49 PM
68 Organizational Strategy and Information Systems

Culture and Information Systems Development Variation across national cultures may lead to differing perceptions and approaches to IS development. In particular, systems designers may have different perceptions of the end users and how the systems would be used. For example, Danish designers who had more socialist values were more concerned about people‐related issues when compared to Canadian designers with more capitalist values. The Canadian designers were more interested in technical issues. National culture may also affect the perceptions of project risk and risk management behaviors. At the organiza- tional level, cultural values can affect the features of new software and the way it is implemented.

Culture and Information Technology Adoption and Diffusion National cultures that are more willing to accept risk appear to be more likely to adopt new technologies. Those cultures that are less concerned about power differences among people (i.e., have low power distance) are more likely to adopt technologies that help promote equality. People are more likely to adopt a new technology if they think that the technology’s embedded values match those of their national culture. Further, if a technology is to be successfully implemented into an organization, either the technology must fit with the organization’s culture or the culture must be shaped to fit the behavioral requirements of the technology. For example, a dashboard that shares analytics and key performance indicators to all employees would reduce the “power” of leaders in a hierarchical organization in which only the senior managers have access to the data. In such organizations, implementation of such an information system would likely be very slow or rejected altogether because the culture would not support broad information sharing.

Culture and Information Technology Use and Outcomes Research has shown that differences in culture result in differences in the use and outcomes of IT. At the orga- nizational level, cultural values are often related to satisfied users, successful IS implementations or knowledge management successes. At the national level, e‐mail adoption was much slower in Japan than in the United States. Japanese prefer richer forms of communication such as meeting face‐to‐face. The lean e‐mail can’t accommodate the symbols in their language as easily as a fax. Further, in countries that are more likely to avoid uncertainty like Japan and Brazil, IT is used often for planning and forecasting, whereas in countries that are less concerned about risk and uncertainty, IT is more often used for maintaining flexibility. Furthermore, some things are acceptable in one country but not another. For example, DitchWitch could not use its logo globally because a witch is offensive in some countries.


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