Cultural Diversity and Trust in IT Adoption: A Comparison of Potential e-Voters in the USA and South Africa
David Gefen (Drexel University, USA), Gregory M. Rose (Washington State University, USA), Merrill Warkentin (Mississippi State University, USA) and Paul A. Pavlou (University of California, Riverside, USA)
Copyright: © 2008
To trust means to have expectations about others’ (the trustees’) socially acceptable behavior. One of the central effects of this trust in the context of IT adoption is to increase the perceived usefulness (PU) of Information Technology (IT) associated with the trustee’s agency. One way of increasing this trust is through greater sociocultural similarity. Taking previous research into the realm of electronic voting, this paper posits that because trust is culture-dependent, it should decrease considerably as cultural diversity and differentiation increases. To investigate the role of trust in IT adoption in different cultures where dissimilar concepts of socially acceptable behavior exist, this study compares trust-related perceptions of an emerging IT (i.e., electronic voting) between the United States of America (USA) and the Republic of South Africa (RSA). More specifically, the question was addressed by comparing the unique circumstances of the cultural changes in the RSA with the more socially integrated mainstream USA culture. In both cultures, a perceived sociocultural similarity between the individual and the agency in charge of the electronic voting IT contributed to both the establishment of trust and to an increase in the perceived usefulness of the IT, supporting and extending the extrapolations of past propositions to this new realm. However, only in the USA did trust contribute to the PU of the IT. The results suggest that when cultural diversity is large, trust becomes of lesser importance, perhaps because it can no longer reduce social uncertainty. Implications for researchers and governmental voting agencies are discussed, and future research directions are proposed.