Year

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Management and Marketing

Abstract

The prevailing approach to the study of technology-mediated communication and culture within the information systems and marketing literature has been the utilisation of the work of Hofstede (1980) and Hall (1976). Hofstede’s (1980) work provides a set of cultural dimensions that can be used to distinguish different cultural value systems from each other (power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity/femininity and individualism/collectivism). This work had been developed primarily to account for national identity and intercultural differences in face-to-face communications within organisations but has been extensively used to account for cultural differences in technology mediated marketing communication, despite the fact that there are real concerns about its applicability to online situations. On the other hand, Hall’s (1976) intercultural communication theory suggests ways in which people within a culture may interact with each other by identifying contextual components that are important in individual-to-individual communication within a culture. Interestingly, this is not actually the work for which Hall - a cultural anthropologist - is best known (see discussions of Hall’s work concerning the semiotics of space and time by Nöth (1990, p.410)). Together, Hofstede and Hall have provided a useful foundation approach for conducting web system localisation, generally implemented as a content analysis of cultural values. However, this narrowly circumscribed theory fails to provide a link between culture and communication.

Whilst we have seen a range of studies suggesting the need for cultural awareness and sensitivity to other cultures in relation to technology use, adoption and presumably its development by organisations (Zakaria et al., 2003), there has been really very little work suggesting ways in which this might be identified, let alone promoted. It is possible although unusual, to encounter individuals that are raised in two cultures and fluent in both, but when we talk about the development of technologies like web systems, we are claiming that messages or utterances produced by one party can be understood by another from a different culture without ambiguity as if both were of the same culture. Understanding the existence of cultural differences in the age of the Internet is extremely important in the development of global electronic business.

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