Journal of the Association for Information Systems

Article Title

Constraining Opportunism in Information Systems Consulting: A Three Nation Examination


In the context of IS consulting, this study applies the principles of engaged scholarship to examine the perennial problem of constraining opportunism. Using constructs proposed by the theory of relationship constraints, this paper examines the relative effectiveness of different constraint mechanisms on information systems (IS) consultants in China, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, for projects with different levels of information asymmetry, tacit knowledge, and explicit knowledge. While we found support in all of these countries for the salience of these dimensions, there are important distinctions in the effectiveness of different constraints among the countries. Generally, consulting clients in the United States believe that social constraints are more effective, while those in China and Saudi Arabia favor legal constraints. Our research suggests that these findings are a result of differences in legal systems and the foundations of social norm formation. Our findings highlight the importance of tacit knowledge and information asymmetry (over explicit knowledge), and we provide a conceptual model for an IS-interventionist approach to reducing opportunism.