Analysing four case vignettes in a grounded theory approach, this exploratory paper investigates the architecture and design principles of international information systems. A two-dimensional topology for international information systems—suggested in previous research—was confirmed as a useful architecture paradigm. In its terms, international information systems are configured from two elements: ‘Core’ systems (common for the whole enterprise) on the one hand and ‘Local’ systems (different for each site) on the other. The interface between the two is a third component. One case vignette in particular highlights the logical and organisational difficulties in defining these systems elements. Object orientation as the fundamental design principle is investigated as an approach to provide a solution for this problem. Because it enables implementation differentiation and flexibility for future functional changes, it is conjectured that object technology is an optimal—technical—development strategy for international information systems. Directions for further research are outlined.