In view of academic and theoretical perspective, the effects of culture on IS acceptance have been studied by researchers mostly based on Hofstede’s (1980) cultural construct. It has also been shown to be stable and useful for numerous studies across many disciplines. First, Hofstede’s dimensions assume culture falls along national boundaries and that the cultures are viewed as static over time. Second, Hofstede (1980) asserts that central tendencies in a nation are replicated in their institutions through the behaviour or practices of individuals. And, third, Hofstede’s framework explicitly links national cultural values to communication practices; i.e., communication practices using ICT are central to our study (see Merchant, 2002; Samovar, Porter, & Jain, 1981; Stohl, 2001). Furthermore, Hofstede’s model was important because it (a) organised cultural differences into overarching patterns, and (b) conducted the most comprehensive study of how values in the workplace are influenced by culture, which (c) facilitated comparative research and launched a rapidly-expanding body of cultural and cross-cultural research in the ensuing 20 years. Hofstede’s (1980) cultural dimensions serve as the most influential culture theory among social science research, and has received strong empirical support. Hofstede, therefore, contributed the influential work in cross-cultural research. Hofstede (1984, p. 51) defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group from another”; and (b) proposes a series of four dimensions (a fifth was added later; that is, Confucian dynamism) that distinguishes between work-related values. The cultural dimensions are individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity-femininity. Hofstede and Bond (1988) found an additional dimension, which is particularly relevant to Asian culture, Confucian dynamism (i.e., often referred to as long/short term orientation). These value dimensions, which distinguish national value systems, also affect individuals and organizations.
Understanding the moderating factors that influence user technology acceptance and adoption in different contexts continues to be a focal interest in information systems (hereafter, IS) research. Moderating factors may account for both the limited explanatory power and the inconsistencies between studies (Sun & Zhang, 2006). Accordingly, based on a careful literature review, we believe that culture, defined as mental concepts influencing the relationships with other people, the environment and the concept of time (see Hofstede, 1991; Hall, 1989; Trompenaar, 1995), is an important moderating-factor; that is, culture constitutes “the broadest influence on many dimensions of human behaviour” (Soares, Farhangmehr, & Shoham, 2007).
Particularly, culture is a factor that has been shown to be significant but underresearched in recent studies of information-accessing behaviour. Nevertheless, there is increasing interest in the IS research literature in the impact of cultural differences on the development and use of information technologies (hereafter, IT) and IS. For example, the following authors identified cultural values as one of the influential factors on adoption of information and communication technology (hereafter, ICT): Bagchi, Cerveny, Hart, and Peterson (2003), Johns, Smith, and Strand (2003), Maitland and Bauer (2001) and Sørnes, Stephens, Saetre, and Browning (2004). Straub (1994) has used the uncertainty avoidance dimension to explain why the diffusion of information technologies differed in the USA and Japan. Watson, Ho, and Raman (1994) have also used the individualism-collectivism dimension to account for differences in the way Group Support Systems (GSS) affected group decisions in the USA and Singapore. Findings from Chau et al. (2002) illustrate how users from different countries differ in their perception of the purpose of Internet and, consequently, exhibit differences in their behaviours and general attitudes toward the Internet. Marcus and Gould (2000) examine a number of cultural dimensions and their possible impact on user-interface design (see also Barber & Badre, 2001; Del Galdo & Nielsen, 1996). Other authors, for example, explore cultural influences on technology development and innovation (Herbig, 1994), cultural influences on technology adoption (Straub, 1994), and culture as a factor in the diffusion of the Internet (Cronin, 1996; Goodman, Press, Ruth, & Rutkowski, 1994; Maitland, 1999). Finally, Veiga, Floyd, and Dechant (2001) suggest that perceptions of a technology’s ease-of-use and usefulness are connected to an individual’s broader system of belief, including culturally-sensitive beliefs.
Therefore, because of an anticipated large number of IS users from multiple cultures, research may systematically examine the acceptance and usage models and other models related to cross-cultural motives and beliefs. As Sun and Zhang (2006) suggest, these models have traditionally presented two limitations: (1) the relatively low explanatory power; and (2) inconsistent influences of the cross-study factors. Research may (1) focus on identifying the major cultural dimensions and their corresponding relationships with IS acceptance; and (2) examine the potential moderating effects that may overcome these limitations.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Perceived Ease-of-Use (PEOU): Defined as the degree to which a person believes that using a particular IS would be free of effort.
Perceived Usefulness (PU): Defined as the degree to which a person believes that a singular IS would enhance his/her job performance.
Individualism (IDV): The degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onward are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.
Masculinity (MAS): Refers to the distribution of roles between the genders which is another fundamental issue for any society to which a range of solutions are found.
Culture: Refers to the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group from another.
Power Distance Index (PDI): The extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.
Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI): Deals with a society’s tolerance for uncertainty and ambiguity; it ultimately refers to man’s search for Truth. It indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations.