Culture Issues in Global IT Management
 What is Culture
 “culture provides members with images of their basic
concerns, principles, ethics, and bodies of manners,
rituals, ideologies, strategies, and tactics of selfsurvival including certain notions of good deeds and
bad, various form of folklore and legends… The way
we give logic to world begins at birth with gestures,
words, tone of voice, noises, color, smells, and body
contact we experience… Our culture is what is
familiar, recognizable, habitual, It is ‘what goes
without saying’”.
 Van maanen, J. and Laurent, A. The flow of
cultures: some notes on globalization and the
multinational corporations, New York, NY, St.
martin’s Press 1993.
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Global Village
 Is there a universal Business Culture that is
independent of surrounding culture?
Business is business
all over the world
The computer
subculture is the same
all over the world
Cultural differences
explain everything
Cultural differences
explain everything
The continuum of “does culture matter”
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Stereotype

Normal distribution cluster around a hypothesis.






American stereotypes
Indian stereotypes
British stereotypes
Finnish stereotypes
German
African

Cultural experts claim that most successful managers are
those that use these cultural mental files as starting points
and continuously update them with new information

Less successful managers are those who deny having any
stereotypes and those who rely strictly on stereotypes.
Culture
 Some notions about culture


The idea that culture can be managed is “itself cultural”
American managers understand culture as something an
organization has

Europeans understand culture as something as
organization is

Americans believe in controlling their destiny and their
ability to change corporate cultures, even in relatively short
time spans.

Corporate cultural change is something not highly stressed
in Europe compare to America
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Do Cultural Differences Affect Global
Software Development and Management
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Different Types of Culture



Within a national boundary (Canada or India or even US)
Across boundaries (Arab or Arabic)
Organizational culture (corporate culture)


Professional culture


Lawyers, military, academic, programmers etc.
Team Culture


IBM, Microsoft, Toyota, Ford, etc
emerges from bonding through common work experiences, disaster
and success, from cliquish jokes, team symbols or icon.
Individual


Multiple caps
“I’m more American now than Indian”
 Which of these cultural norms is the strongest?
 What is the future of a true corporate culture?
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Managing Cultural Differences
 Awareness
 Knowledgeable
 Understand fundamental differences
 There is no general theory of cultural
difference so what can we do?
People who speak:
3 languages:
trilingual
2 languages:
bilingual
1 language:
American
In Heaven,
The Police are British,
The Cooks are French,
The Lovers are Italian, and
It’s all Organized by the Germans
In Hell,
The Police are French,
The Cooks are British,
The Lovers are German, and
It’s all Organized by the Italians.
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Key Cultural Dimensions
 Data for these research was collected between 19671978
 By Geert Hofstede, a Dutch scholar, an industrial
psychologist at IBM.
 Survey of IBM personnel in 40 countries
 Sample size was over 100,000
 Good data resource for our purpose but not perfect
for social scientist in general because of the data was
from a control group (IT professionals).
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Result





Revering Hierarchy (or Power distance)
Individual versus Collectivism
Taking Care of Business
Risk Avoidance
Long term orientation.
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Revering Hierarchy (Power Distance)
 How people think about equality and relationship with
supervisors and subordinates
 In some culture
 Large gaps between levels of organizational hierarchy
 Individuals are careful about expressing their opinion to
superiors
 Show proper respect to their boss
 Superior issue directives and expect subordinates to
speak only when allowed and unpleasantly surprised
when subordinates freely air their opinions
 Vice-versa
 Implication
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
Revering Hierarch. How unequal between rank and class is normal?
Low scores represent little reverence of hierarchy.
Israel
13
Germany
35
Netherlands
38
USA
40
Japan
54
France
68
Hong Kong
68
India
77
West Africa
77
Indonesia
78
China
80
Russia
95
Rank and class are less important
Rank and class are very important
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Individualism vs. Collectivism
 The extent to which a person sees herself as an
individual rather than part of a group
 In




individual culture people are:
Expected to have there own opinion
Concern with personal achievement
Individual right
Independence
 In collectivism culture people are:
 Opinions are determined by group members
 People see themselves first as part of the group and
are concern with the welfare of the group
 Implication
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
Individual-Collectivism. The degree to which individuals prefer to act as
individual rather than members of groups (I.e. collectivistic).
High score indicate high individualism and low scores imply high degree of
collectivism.
USA
91
Netherlands
80
France
71
Germany
67
Israel
54
Russia
50
India
48
Japan
46
Hong Kong
25
China
20
West Africa
20
Indonesia
14
Highly individualistic
Rank and class are very important
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Taking Care of Business
(masculinity/femininity)
 “Toughness” needed in taking care of
business (“masculine”)
 “Softer values” of taking care of people and
being concerned with quality of life
(“femininity”)
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
Taking care of Business. To what degree are tough values such as
assertiveness valued against paternalistic values such as relationships and
quality of life.
Japan
95
Germany
66
USA
62
Hong Kong
57
India
56
China
50
Israel
47
West Africa
46
Indonesia
46
France
43
Russia
40
Netherlands
14
Tough values
Paternalistic value
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Risk Avoidance
 Attitude towards risky situations, ambiguous
behaviors, predictability and control
 High risk avoidance culture places greater emphasis on
 Stability rather than innovation or change
 Resistance to outsiders or starting a company
 Low risk avoidance culture
 Embrace change more easily
 Tend to be more entrepreneurial
 More likely to break rules and
 Accepts new ideas faster
 Implication
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
Risk Avoidance. To what degree do people prefer structured, low risk
situation versus ambiguous, higher risk.
Japan
92
Russia
90
France
86
Israel
81
Germany
65
China
60
West Africa
54
Netherlands
53
Indonesia
48
USA
46
India
40
Hong Kong
29
Avoid risk
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Long Term Orientation (Confucianism
dynamism)
 Relative importance of here-and–now versus the
future – long-term.
 Confucian – is a type of the Chinese philosopher
Confucius.




Persistence
Diligence
Patience
The Confucian tradition, also implies strong patriarchal
authority, which is family centered, and it is also close
to the “taking care of business” dimension
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
Long-term orientation. Based on values of Confucianism. To what degree do
people value the future (e.g., in persistence and thrift) versus the past or
present
China
118
Hong Kong
96
Japan
80
India
61
Netherlands
44
Germany
31
France
30
USA
29
Indonesia
25
West Africa
16
Russia
10
Israel
N/A
Future orientation
Past and/or present orientation
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Do Cultural Differences Affect Global Software
Development and Management
 No, there are essentially no cultural differences
amongst software professionals
 Scientific culture dominates national culture
 I.e. Programmers in Moscow is more similar to his
American peers than to other Russians.
 Engineering or Scientist stereotypes
 Is there a computer professional sub-culture that
overpowers national culture?
 E.g Low social needs and high achievement
 Software development tools internationally
 Technical language and jargons
Cultural Issues in Global IT Management
 Do Cultural Differences Affect Global
Software Development and Management
 Yes, there certainly are cultural differences
amongst software professionals
 Different development method are used in
different countries
 French are better in OO
 Japan are better in metrics
 American code first and then design later
 Contract and requirement interpretations
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