Research Papers

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Abstract

Research exploring reasons behind the failure of information system (IS) projects tends to focus on projects that have already failed rather than examine issues faced by IS project teams before the failure occurs. Our research addresses this gap by exploring the influence of culture on IS development (ISD) projects. The case study method is used to examine two strategic projects in a single organization in South Africa. A theory for analysing culture’s influence during ISD is developed using inductive reasoning. Culture is conceptualized as dynamic and emergent with varying levels of culture occurring simultaneously in organizations. This research describes how the overlapping of different cultural levels raises issues for ISD teams. Comprehending the relevance of the multiple cultures that exist in ISD projects offers further opportunity for refining explanations for cultural contradictions. A typology of cultural contradictions that emerge during ISD is introduced and discussed. Furthermore, the findings indicate that despite variation in the context of each project, there is similarity in the nature and effect of emergent cultural contradictions. The paper concludes with suggestions for addressing cultural influences on ISD projects.

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