Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Research exploring the cultural influence on information system development (ISD) projects tends to focus on a single level of influence (e.g., organizational culture) or cultural incompatibility between one or two cultural levels that are assumed to be discretely separate and static (e.g., national and organizational culture). In contrast, our research conceptualizes culture as dynamic and emergent, with varying levels of overlapping cultures that occur simultaneously in ISD projects (e.g., organizational and occupational culture overlaps). The case study method is used to examine two strategic projects in a single organization in South Africa. The findings describe how the overlap of different cultural levels gives rise to cultural contradictions in ISD projects. Understanding the relevance of the multiple cultures that exist in ISD projects offers further opportunity for refining explanations of cultural contradictions. Cultural contradictions that emerge from cultural overlaps during ISD are conceptualized as five distinct types: Vision Contradictions, Priority Contradictions, Process Contradictions, Role Contradictions, and Technology Contradictions. Despite variation in the context of each project, there is a similarity in the nature and effect of emergent cultural contradictions. The paper concludes with suggestions for addressing cultural contradictions in and influences on ISD projects.





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