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National Culture and IT Management


culture is defined as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns that are ... As individualism decreases, voluntarism is more important in technology adoption ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: National Culture and IT Management

National Culture and IT Management
  • ECIS591

What is Culture?
  • …culture is defined as an integrated system of
    learned behavior patterns that are characteristic
    of the members of any society. It includes
    everything a group thinks, says, does, and makes
    its customs, language, material artifacts, and
    shared systems of attitudes and feelings -
    Czinkota, et al (1996), p.298

Researchers agree that…
  • Culture is learned and shared from generation to
  • Cultural norms may be acquired through parents,
    schools, religious organizations, and social
  • Elements of culture include both verbal and
    non-verbal language, religion, values and
    attitudes, perceptions, and protocols

Dimensions of Culture
  • Hofstede
  • Power Distance
  • Individualism/Collectivism
  • Masculinity/Femininity
  • Uncertainty Avoidance
  • Confucianism/Dynamism
  • Hall
  • Space
  • Material Goods
  • Friendship
  • Time
  • Agreement

Hofstedes Dimensions of Culture
  • Conducted between 1967-1978
  • Collected over 100,000 surveys from IBM employees
    around the world
  • Single, consistent control group
  • National differences emerge despite strong
    corporate culture

Power distance
  • Also referred to as Revering Hierarchy
  • Extent to which subordinates expect and accept
    the fact that power is distributed unequally in a
  • Some cultures see large gaps between hierarchical
  • Panama scores highest, Israel lowest

  • Extent to which individual sees themselves as
    part of a group
  • Individualistic Cultures
  • Expected to have opinions
  • Stress personal achievements
  • Independence
  • Individual rights
  • Collectivist Cultures
  • Harmony
  • Welfare group

Implications for IS Management?
  • Systems Design
  • Inherently group effort
  • Process designed for conflict
  • Incentive Schemes
  • Reward individual or group?

  • Taking care of business
  • toughness in meeting goals
  • softness in taking care of people and quality
    of life
  • Japan ranks as highly masculine
  • Scandinavian countries rank low
  • Implications?
  • Work hours

Uncertainty Avoidance
  • Attitudes towards risk, ambiguity,
    predictability, and control
  • High avoidance cultures place emphasis on
  • Low avoidance countries embrace change and
  • Japanese high on Uncertainty Avoidance
  • Hong Kong low on Uncertainty Avoidance

  • Recent addition to cultural dimensions
  • Here-and-now vs. future
  • Confucian traits
  • Thrift
  • Persistence
  • Diligence
  • Patience
  • Patriarchal authority

Ford, Connelly, and Meister (2003)
  • Citation analysis of 57 national culture-related
    articles from 22 Information Systems journals
    (peer reviewed)
  • Looked at all articles that utilized any of
    Hofstedes dimensions as independent variable
  • Examined correlation between Hofstede dimensions
    and Internet subscription rates for various

Some studies included in the analysis
  • Power distance
  • As PD increases, top-down directives increase
    (for BPR) (1998 study of China)
  • In high PD countries, participative development
    may not be suitable (1999 study of Korea)
  • Countries with higher PD emphasize
    professionalism and expertise. Lower PD countries
    emphasize client participation in IS development
    (1998-not specified)
  • In higher PD countries, adoption of power
    reducing technologies is limited (1997-Japan,
    Switzerland, US)

More research
  • Uncertainty Avoidance
  • Higher UA countries top management role in
    implementation is decreased less likely to view
    challenges as problems (1998 China)
  • Higher UA countries linked to higher resistance
    to new applications, higher traditionalism
  • Higher UA countries see higher levels of
  • High UA countries prefer formal rules for
    videoconferencing and like to have richer
    communication media

More research
  • Individualism Collectivism
  • Low individualism countries may be willing to
    take more IS risks
  • Female IS professionals more collectivist that
    male counterparts
  • As individualism decreases, voluntarism is more
    important in technology adoption
  • Higher individualism linked to more varied IS
    Infrastructure than in collectivist countries
  • Electronic meeting systems decrease power
    differentials in countries low in individualism
  • Less satisfaction with geographically dispersed

More research
  • Masculinity Femininity
  • Masculine cultures have more conflict in
  • Electronic meetings result in greater
    participation in masculine cultures
  • Male IS professionals rate higher in masculinity
    than female counterparts (relates to professional

How do Hofstedes dimensions relate to Internet
plt.05 plt.01 plt.001
  • From Ford, et. al., (2003)

Halls Dimensions of Culture
  • Space
  • Close-talker?
  • Queues
  • Materialism
  • Danish CEO admired for driving old car
  • Americans fight for corner office with biggest
  • Japanese manager may sit with other employees to
    downplay role of status and material goods

Halls Dimensions
  • Friendships
  • Some western cultures make and lose friends
    quickly (due to high mobility)
  • Other cultures may take longer to develop
    relationship but long-lasting
  • Holds for businesses as well … relationship
    first, then business

Halls Dimensions
  • Time
  • Monochronic cultures
  • See time as linear
  • Events taken one at a time, work on issues one
    after another
  • Delays in one task imply others are delayed
  • Stress on punctuality and deadlines
  • Monochronic people, like Scandinavians and North
    Americans, prefer to do one thing at a time…for
    instance, they do not book several meetings at
    the same time. Time is compartmentalized theres
    time for everything and evrything has its time
    (Tella, S. in Achronos, 2000)

  • Polychronic cultures
  • See time as non-linear, simultaneous, unlimited
  • Events not seen as tightly coupled to
    antecedents events simply transpire
  • Events seen as unfolding in complex ways, they
    are seen occurring in parallel
  • Plans constantly change focus on relationships
  • Delays less important

Comments on Polychronic cultures
  • …polychronic peoples, as represented by South
    Americans and Southern Europeans, tend to do
    several things at the same time or in parallel
    time segments. They do not think it odd to answer
    their phone while having a videoconference with
    foreign partners, or talk to a passing student by
    leaving the other videoconference partners to
    simply wait (Tella, S. in Achronos, 2000)
  • Among Arabs, time is not as fixed and rigidly
    segmented as it tends to be among westerners. It
    flows from past to present to future and Arabs
    flow with it. Social occasions and even
    appointments need not have fixed beginnings or
    endings. Arabs are, thus, much more relaxed about
    the timing of events than they are about other
    aspects of their lives (Nydell, 1987)

Research on Mono- and Polychronic cultures (Rose
et al., 2003)
  • Looked at Consumer responses to web download
  • Compared US and Finland (Monchronic) to Egypt and
    Peru (Polychronic)
  • 595 respondents across 4 countries
  • Three hypotheses
  • H1 Increases in download delay lead to a
    negative impact on attitudes toward delay,
    regardless of culture
  • H2 Effect of download delay on attitude toward
    download delay is less pronounced with
    polychronics than monochronics
  • H3 Monochronics experience different levels of
    perceived delay time than polychronics

The results
  • Both H1 and H2 strongly supported
  • In the case of H3, also strongly supported (see
    data below)

From Rose, Evaristo, and Straub (2003)
High Vs. Low Context Cultures
Japanese, Chinese, Mediterranean, Latin, Indian
High context (Implicit details)
American, German, English, Scandinavian
Low context (Explicit details)