Dysfunctional Development Pathways of Information and Communication Technology: Cultural Conflicts

Dysfunctional Development Pathways of Information and Communication Technology: Cultural Conflicts

G. Roland Kaye (Open University Business School, UK) and Stephen Little (Open University Business School, UK)
Copyright: © 2000 |Pages: 9
DOI: 10.4018/jgim.2000010101
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This paper argues that there are three factors, which counter the inevitable movement towards globalisation. Firstly the incremental force of technology as illustrated by the growth stage model of the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is flawed. This model implies a linearity of development and an inevitability of stage following stage. While this stage model may provide historic explanation for the development in the developed world and amongst the mature users, the model fails when used predictively for the developing nations or for the late adopters. Secondly the imperialism of technology overcoming all barriers fails to reconcile the cultural dimensions of both the developing context or the application domain. Technology is not culturally neutral but is developed in a cultural context and in the case of information rich applications carries that cultural within its design. Applications of culturally developed systems, such as office and management systems assume the user’s compliance with the design culture, but this inevitably leads to cultural clashes as we apply outside the design context. Thirdly the assumption of universality of economic access and development is incompatible with both the reality and development paths in both developed and developing countries. This inevitably will lead to a divided society split between the internationally mobile, technology-supported communities and those communities disadvantaged economically and technologically but culturally rich. The failure to bridge this gap may leave society as a whole weakened through lack of access to ’variety’. The paper discusses these perspectives and illustrates the case with evidence from NE Asia and the United Kingdom. In particular it focuses on software development and information-rich contexts.

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