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Abstract

An understanding of culture is important to the study of information technologies in that culture at various levels, including national, organizational, and group, can influence the successful implementation and use of information technology. Culture also plays a role in managerial processes that may directly, or indirectly, influence IT. Culture is a challenging variable to research, in part because of the multiple divergent definitions and measures of culture. Notwithstanding, a wide body of literature has emerged that sheds light on the relationship of IT and culture. This paper sets out to provide a review of this literature in order to lend insights into our understanding of the linkages between IT and culture. We begin by conceptualizing culture and laying the groundwork for a values-based approach to the examination of IT and culture. Using this approach, we then provide a comprehensive review of the organizational and cross-cultural IT literature that conceptually links these two traditionally separate streams of research. From our analysis, we develop six themes of IT culture research emphasizing culture’s impact on IT, IT’s impact on culture, and IT culture. Building upon these themes, we then develop a theory of IT, values, and conflict. Based upon the theory, we develop propositions concerning three types of cultural conflict and the results of these conflicts. Ultimately, the theory suggests that the reconciliation of these conflicts results in a reorientation of values. We conclude with the particular research challenges posed in this line of inquiry.

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