Diversity Orientation and Cultural Differences in the Implementation of Information Technology

Diversity Orientation and Cultural Differences in the Implementation of Information Technology

Sylnovie Merchant, John E. Merchant
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-883-8.ch002
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While there has been a great deal of research on the application and implementation of Information Technology (IT), there is less research on the variables which can contribute to the successful strategic implementation of IT Strategy and its relation to the cultural/work values of the people involved in the implementation. This chapter presents a model that outlines an approach to consider in relating the correlation of IT Strategy and implementation to the Culture and Work values of the individuals in a particular cultural setting. Surveys were administered to working adults in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and the United States in an attempt to determine how culture would dictate their attitude to IT issues. Questions were asked in order to capture their orientations in the work environment as well as what factors would be motivators to them in a work environment. Through chi-square and ANOVA tests, it was found that significant differences existed.
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One problem that we face is that there is no agreement on what elements need to be explored that facilitate the implementation of IT. Some arguments presented are that: (1) the internal condition that support strategy utilization include leadership, integration of IT, the strategic function and direct contact between IT and line divisions (Johnston & Carrico, 1988); (2) one needs to look at individual action and behavior in an organizational context (Swanson, 1987); and (3) technology, interdepartmental relations and the environment are the key factors in the transformational process (Daft & Lengel, 1986). This lack of agreement is understandable because the level of complexity inherent in any organization is a characteristic of the system’s physical and social structure, and it is impacted by the total number of its individual sub-units, the number of different layers in the structural hierarchy, the number of different business processes that perform business activities, and the number and strengths of connections among all these sub-units, and between these sub-units and outside economic agents. A consequence of this lack of agreement is that researchers are left to suggest and develop their own approach to studying the influence of IT on an organization.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Task-Oriented: An.employee that basically wants to be left alone to do his/her job.

Role-Oriented: Employees who are expected to follow the detailed policies and procedures of the organization, and in most cases, employees with this orientation prefer to work in that type of environment.

Sylnovie Merchant: Has over 10 years of teaching experience at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in California and Virginia. She has published over 50 articles in books, journals and conference proceedings. She has lived in South Korea, Japan, Turkey and France and has participated in international conferences in Canada, Malaysia, Turkey, Greece, Singapore, France, Austria, the Netherlands, England and Slovenia.

Power-Oriented: An employee who do what he/she is told to do and the employees feel comfortable in an environment such as that.

Cultural Orientation: A field of study that gives us a model for understanding and predicting the results of inter-cultural encounters; that is, individually we are all different, but share similar experiences with those who grew up in the same surroundings, in the same type of society as us

American Cultural Orientation: This places a strong emphasis on personal choice and personal achievement. Americans believe that individuals should be rewarded and recognized on the basis of personal achievement.

Chinese Cultural Orientation: This places the demands and accomplishments of groups, such as families, clans, or villages - the collectivistic orientation of Chinese workers suggests more of a tendency toward group-based performance incentives

Values: One of the first things a child learns from its parents. At that time, we were taught, among others things, about what is: good versus evil, clean versus dirty, beautiful versus ugly, natural versus unnatural, normal versus abnormal, logical versus illogical, rational versus irrational, and fair versus unfair. These values are broad tendencies to prefer some conditions to others.

John Merchant: has over 20 years teaching graduate and undergraduates in California, Virginia, and the U. S. Air Force Academy. He has been a visiting professor to Japan, Ireland, France, and South Korea. He has lived in, taught in, and/or worked in over 20 countries. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Strategic Management in California.

Person-Oriented: An employee who looks to the organization to provide personal growth opportunity and the practice of considering the feelings of the individual.

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