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Abstract

Culture is an important topic in strategic information systems (IS) research, particularly because information technology (IT) projects are often accompanied by cultural challenges. While culture has been widely analyzed in this discipline, there is a lack of research that systematically examines the role of culture in strategic IS research. With a structured literature review, we investigate the relation patterns between culture, strategy, and IS-related concepts in terms of dependent, moderating, and independent variables and the research approach in terms of descriptive, normative, and prescriptive. Four different patterns emerge, each one closely related to specific forms of theorizing and corresponding research designs. Research streams focusing on descriptive explanations of culture’s role are rather exhausted. IS research that builds on a normative understanding of culture exists in selected areas, while theorizing on the prescriptive management of culture has been largely neglected despite the relevance of cultural challenges in IS projects. We derive areas for future research and present two themes that emerged in our study to demonstrate how descriptive and normative approaches can provide a foundation for research on the prescriptive management of culture in strategic IS projects: the management of cultural clashes and the management of cultural identity.

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