Knowledge @ ESCP Europe

Cross-cultural Management

Drivers of Cultural Differences in Information System Adoption

A Case Study. Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS), Chicago, August 2013


Stephanie Ryschka - Business Information Systems

Stephanie Ryschka
Research Assistant
Chair of Business Information Systems

Markus Bick is professor of Business Information Systems and holds the Chair of Business Information Systems at the ESCP Europe Berlin Campus. He earned a Doctorate in Economics from the University of Duisburg-Essen and a Diploma (M.Sc. equivalent) in business information systems from the University of Essen.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation projects still often exceed their budgets and only half of the projects reach a benefit realization of 50% or more (Panorama Consulting Group, 2011). Among the main reasons for these poor results among of ERP implementations is the limited understanding of cultural differences regarding IS adoption.

Although various studies have demonstrated the influence of cultural differences on IS adoption decisions on the national or organizational layer, the variation among findings in this research area is substantial. While most of the studies show clear evidence for the influence of national culture on IS adoption, researchers reach different results concerning how national culture as an overall concept impacts adoption decisions.

In contrast to previous quantitative studies which mainly focus on uncovering the kinds of differences that exist in the adoption process across cultures, we scrutinize the motives for these differences in adoption decisions with a qualitative approach. Hence, there are three research questions this study aims to answer:

  1. What are the reasons for differences in perceived usefulness of ERP system between different cultures?
  2. What are the reasons for differences in perceived ease of use of ERP system between different cultures?
  3. What are the reasons for differences in the influence of usage intention on actual usage of ERP systems between different cultures?

These research questions were probed by means of a case single study carried out within a global pharmaceutical company with manufacturing locations in China, the United States and the German-speaking areas of Switzerland.

Applying the extended technology acceptance model (TAM2, Venkatesh & Davis (2000)) and the GLOBE study (House et al. 2004), we analyze the adoption decisions of a subset of an ERP system – quality management systems. By means of a case study containing document analysis, evaluations of observations and interviews, five system-related and four project-management-related influencing variables are identified, leading to the basis for a future research agenda.

Factors leading to cultural differences in perceived usefulness, perceived usability and actual system usage

By collecting and analyzing the different datasets from the case study, nine factors influencing the adoption decision of the observed quality management system and their related cultural dimensions have been identified.

These factors can be divided into two categories: factors directly related to the quality management system and factors more related to the project management of system introduction (see table).

The former impact perceived usability and perceived usefulness, whereas the latter have an effect on the actual usage of the system. Perceived usefulness of the system was found to be influenced by enabled transparency, success story, process mapping, innovativeness of functionalities, reporting functionalities and system stability. Language adaptation was the major variable which had an impact on the perceived usability of the quality management system.

Four factors which influence differences in the transition between usage intention and actual system use have been identified. In contrast to the system-related factors affecting usability and usefulness, actual system use is primarily interlinked with management-related factors. The variables identified from observations and interviews are the level of detail of instructions, monitoring measures, the level of involvement and personal training. With respect to national cultural dimensions, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, assertiveness and human orientation were identified as major drivers in multinational ERP system adoption.

The identification of the particular factors enables practitioners to design their systems as well as implementation strategies customized to their specific target cultures. Theory benefits from this study through an enriched understanding of previous studies’ results and through the provision of the underlying reasons for differences of previous quantitative studies, e.g., in the area of uncertainty avoidance. For example, local resistance to ERP implementations can now be handled in terms of an in-depth comprehension of the different reasons and aspects causing this resistance in respective cultures. Eventually, this case study provides a further contribution to the need of unmasking of adoption decisions in multinational company.


  1. PanoramaConsultingGroup (2011) 2011 Erp Report, Denver.
  2. Venkatesh, V., and Davis, F. D. (2000) A Theoretical Extension of the Technology Acceptance Model: Four Longitudinal Field Studies, Management Science, 46, 2, 186-204.
  3. House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., and Gupta, V. (2004) Culture, Leadership, and Organizations. The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.