Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Effect of Cultural Norms on the Uptake of Information and Communication Technologies in Europe: A Conceptual Analysis

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

The Effect of Cultural Norms on the Uptake of Information and Communication Technologies in Europe: A Conceptual Analysis

Article excerpt

This article investigates the impact of European cultures on the uptake of the PC based Internet and mobile phones, collectively called information and Communication Technologies (ICT). As the basis for our analysis, we have employed some of the Seven Dimensions of culture introduced by Hampden Turner and Trompenaars. We examine the relationship between the culture and ICT take up in Europe from three angles: 1) how cultural characteristics had helped Europe and the U.S. to develop its ability to achieve leadership in ICT; 2) why Europe assumed leadership in mobile phones; and 3) how cultural factors of individual European countries affect the uptake of ICT.

Introduction

This article is among the first few attempts in investigating the impact of European cultures on the uptake of the PC based Internet and mobile phones (hereafter they are addressed as information and communication technologies, or, in short, ICT) in the region. We see culture to be a vital element in rationalising the current phenomenon of ICT uptake because Europe is not a single market; each country has its unique characteristics. Instead of the common perception of "United States of Europe," we are heading towards a "United Cultures of Europe," as cultural difference is likely to remain.1 Therefore, any explanation forwarded in describing the ICT uptake in Europe without taking a systematised account of cultures are, at their best, incomplete.

The recent technology hype could have easily (mis)led one to subscribe to the view that adoption of technology is unrelated to culture. But in reality, as we hope to demonstrate in this article, culture has played a decisive role in determining and developing the ICT uptake. As the basis for our analysis, we have employed three of the Seven Dimensions of culture introduced by Hampden Turner and Trompenaars.2 To set the stage, the definitions to these three dimensions are shown in table 1.

This article intends to answer three questions. First, we ask how cultural characteristics had helped Europe and the U.S. to develop its ability to achieve leadership in ICT. Then, we question why Europe assumed leadership in mobile phones. Subsequently, we highlight how cultural factors of individual European countries affect the uptake of ICT. We conclude this article with some managerial implications and summarising remarks.

Europe's Two Options

It was the Americans who both invented the Internet and created the first mobile phones. As a result, Europeans had the option of choosing between these two distinctly different technologies (or at least, to favour one when it comes to resources allocation). As displayed in exhibit 1, Europe appeared to have chosen mobile phones. In contrast, as the exhibit also shows, the Americans have favoured the Internet.

Rational Europeans, Empirical Americans

We first address the question of how Europe assumed leadership in ICT. We believe that this is attributable to the capitalisation on the "follower advantage." Hampden Turner and Trompenaars found that European countries such as France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden had historically grown by means of "catch up" strategy, as opposed to the strategy of "innovation" favoured by the U.S. and the U.K.3 Europeans are seen to be universal and diffuse, at least in terms of technological development. They are universal because they are interested in popularising technologies, with the intention that everyone would have the luxury of accessing these technological improvements. Europeans are also diffuse, as they relentlessly seek for the highest quality in the design, development, and manufacturing processes. They pay attention to the bigger picture and overall quality, and focus on enhancing existing technology. We call this combination of universalism and diffuseness rationalism.

While Americans are also universalistic, as they constantly search for new law with passion and celebrate new technology, they are much more specific. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.