Martinsons, M.G., Davison, R.M. & Martinsons, V. How Culture Influences IT-enabled Organizaitional Change and Information Systems. Communications of ACM, April 2009, pp. 118-123.

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The article presents the results of a study of 12 business process re-engineering cases in six countries. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions were used as background theory for defining the culture in the studied countries. The results are very much in line with the ideas of Hofstede. For example high power distance cultures were observed to make it easier to authorize and initiate re-engineering while making it harder to complete the re-engineering smoothly and make the formal plans and business process models. Reason for complications in completing the re-engineering was that the promoted change was usually towards empowering the individual workers and reducing middle management. In high power distance cultures both the managers and workers opposed this change.
Since the scope of the study was not very big, the authors do not claim to have proven the results. Instead they define the results as ‘tentative propositions useful to guide management practice and suitable for confirmation by more extensive research’.

The findings of the study are interesting yet a bit suspicious. Hofstede’s model seems to predict the results almost too well. The article is quite short and thus there is no room for enough examples and citations from the gathered data to convince the reader of the quality of the research. However, the text is fluent and clear and the reasoning seems solid. In addition of being a nice paper about how culture influences organizational change, the article also gives a good example of how cultural theories and models can be utilized in research and what Hofstede’s cultural dimensions mean in practice.

Posted by Petri

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