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Title: Emergent culture in global IS/IT outsourcing
Author: Tsotra, Danai
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 5900
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2011
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The research addresses the emergent nature of culture in global Information Systems / Information Technology (IS/IT) outsourcing relationships. Considering the broadly recognized role of culture in Global Outsourcing (GLOS), it builds on existing literature and it identifies three research issues that support the need to address culture in a global IS/IT relationship as emergent. These issues involve: a. A literature “gap” and low research granularity of existing research, b. The tendency to examine culture in IS/IT as either national or organizational, with no adequate research examining the dynamic nature of culture in GLOS collaboration, and c. The unique nature of GLOS culture, which is not stable but emergent. In order to address emergence, the thesis applies a cultural systems perspective, which is used to describe the emergent GLOS culture as related to a GLOS cultural system. An initial model is thus developed, according to which GLOS culture emerges from a GLOS cultural system, and the GLOS cultural system results from the combination of cultural characteristics of separate organizations within the GLOS context. This GLOS cultural system is related to Attitudes and Behaviors (A&B), the Environment, Interactivity, and Control. Using the philosophical perspective of interpretivism and a qualitative methodology, two pilot studies and a series of case studies were conducted. Due to its increasing reliance on outsourcing strategies, the automotive industry was used as the industry-based setting of the research and, more specifically, the phases related to the production of Electronic System (ES) of coaches and buses. Each phase involves the relationship between the client (AC) and one of its three suppliers (AS1, AS2, AS3), all residing in different countries (three across Europe and one in Asia). The analysis of the two pilot cases (GC, DS) helped finalize the interview agenda, which was then used in the four in-depth case studies that describe the relationship between AC and each individual supplier (AC-AS1, AC-AS2, AC-AS3). A thematic analysis was applied to the interview data, leading to an extended version of the initial model. According to the new extended model, the GLOS cultural system, through Mechanisms and Processes, expresses an emergent GLOS culture, which is related to extended versions of the concepts discussed in the initial model. More specifically, in the extended model, emergent GLOS culture is related to Attitudes, Behaviors, and Cognition (ABC), Context, Interactivity, and Regulation. The extended model also extends the concept of the initial model, further reflecting the emergent nature of emergence of the GLOS culture. Therefore, it associates Attitudes, Behaviors, and Cognition (ABC) with the dimensions of we-they and abstract-expressed, Context with the dimensions of environment and definition, Interactivity with the dimensions of relationship and exchange, and Regulation with the dimensions of control and feedback. The contribution of the extended model is demonstrated through validation by professionals and original participants in the study. The model also expresses the uniqueness of each GLOS collaboration and analyzes emergent GLOS culture in terms of specific cultural attributes, as they emerge within the GLOS relationship. Furthermore, it provides an in-depth description of the nature of emergent culture in global collaboration, and its contribution is discussed from a theoretical, practical, and methodological perspective. The thesis also addresses lessons learned, research limitations, and proposals for further research. Overall, the thesis offers an in-depth approach to understanding culture in GLOS relationships. Building on the concept of emergence, as addressed in existing literature, the study extends the discussion of culture beyond the national – organizational level and it offers a list of cultural attributes (themes) related to emergence. Using empirical industry-based evidence from countries selected across various economic and sociopolitical level, and an industry (automotive) that demonstrates a growing interest in outsourcing strategies, it discusses an emergent approach to culture, focusing exclusively on IS/IT GLOS. The emergent GLOS culture extends beyond mere summation of cultural characteristics of collaborating organizations. It allows for dynamism and adjustability, and, at the same time, it offers a new way of capturing, addressing, and explaining the uniqueness of the culture of every GLOS relationship.
Supervisor: Brooks, L.; Fitzgerald, G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Outsourcing ; Culture ; Global outsourcing ; Sourcing