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Information systems and globalisation

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Systems
Wordcount: 2450 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Task 2 – Literature Review

“Information systems and globalisation”

The purpose of this literature review is to show how information systems relate to globalization and how different cultures affect the use of information systems. In this literature review, cultural diversity and their concerning issues, organisational behaviour, behaviours of individual at workplace due to globalization and what are the key elements for developing a truly global information systems will be discussed.

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Globalization affects information systems in a lot of aspects like the use of internet by general public in the world, global e-mail providers like hotmail and yahoo connects the whole world together. Information systems has big role in globalization by influencing different cultures through internet, where big economies and developed countries benefit the most out of this. Globalization has revolutionized internal management. It has also made easier the interaction between countries, regions and continents, thus contributing to profitability. It is the private sector’s philosophy that propelled efforts to utilize every means, including information technology, to make companies survive, even the biggest and the most powerful company in the world.

Global economic integration is growing rapidly, although the precise implications of this growth are subject to debate. The acceleration of this growth has been facilitated in part by information and communication technologies which are supporting organizations that span national and regional cultures. These cultural differences then become intra-organizational differences. As a consequence, information systems reflecting different cultural assumptions must interact effectively. Beyond the core of Western technical development and diffusion lie a number of economies of growing significance subject to a parallel development, modified by successive inward infusions of technology from the west. In North East Asia a number of economies have been relatively late adopters of many facets of office automation because of a range of cultural differences, not least their use of non-Roman characters. Haywood (1995) outlines the complexity of the development of the western alphabets and Shepard (1993), writing from direct experience, sets out the technical complexities of networking in an environment that must move beyond the ASCII standard. The situation is in some ways comparable to the technical handicap suffered by Western Europe before the adoption of Arabic numerals. Littleton and Yamsey (1978) emphasize the role of Arabic numerals in facilitating the emergence of the basis for western accounting practices during the fifteenth century. In conjunction with secular literacy, this technical innovation allowed a range of economic developments such as credit, capital and property rights to find expression in the development of written accounts.

In North East Asia computer support for numerical and scientific tasks may have reached levels comparable with the west, but the lack of support for non- Roman text so reduced any advantages over established manual systems that office automation has been selective and partial. Such countries have made extensive and effective use of a subset of office automation technologies such as fax and telephone that do not incorporate the requirement of a specific alphabet. Castells and Hall (1994) argue that the development of the fax was driven by a Japanese desire to promote a technology which did not disadvantage them over western users. The sophisticated bit-mapping technology able to deal with ideographic text has emerged relatively late in the process of global diffusion of desktop computing. This means that these increasingly significant players in the world economy are operating in a technical context and to sets of standards, official and de facto, which have been shaped by outside cultural assumptions. There is a cultural dimension to the established practice and expectations within organizations which imparts its own dynamic to the process of change and development. Grounded, longitudinal observation offers access to this dynamic (Badham et al. 1995; Glaser and Strauss; 1967), however, a complex issue has been further confused by the variety of ways in which culture has been formulated by different writers on organizations. One conception of organizational culture has been used to explain the relative success of individual organizations and entrepreneurs (Peters and Waterman, 1982). Other writers refer to culture in terms of national differences in social and economic organization. Latin, Anglo-Saxon and traditional cultures are reflected in distinctive organizational types identified in studies examined by Lammers and Hickson (1979).

Turner (1971) describes industrial subcultures which can be identified across individual organizations, and are distinctive from the larger society. Eldridge and Crombie (1974) define organizational culture as characteristic for individual organizations while Strauss et al. (1973) describe a range of cultures within a single organization. Thompson (1967) utilized the concept of an organizational constituency capable of entering into coalition with other constituencies in order to promote its interest. Such a conception allows the formal elements of an organization to be related to the informal communication and negotiation which often modifies, or in extreme cases frustrates, the intentions of management. It also allows consideration of intra-organizational variations in culture, arising from these differences of interest and experience. The rapid growth in desk-top and end user computing during the 1980s brought about a number of profound changes in the character of organizational information systems. The dramatic reduction of cost and consequently wider availability of computing resources led to a process of commoditisation, initially of the hardware platforms courtesy of the open architecture of the de facto IBM standard clone, then of the operating systems and increasingly of the basic components of business software.

Hu (1992) presents several criteria by which we can judge the nationality of the global organizations. According to him truly global organizations are still to emerge and the geographical location and scope of organizations still favours the country of origin, however several prominent organizations might be known as bi-national. Hu suggests that organizations based in relatively small economic countries might locate more of their resources externally, although, management and control is likely to indicate which are the origin locations of the organizations. With some exceptions, the majority of employment is in the home country, and foreigners are not likely to be represented by the organizations.

Nobes and Parker (1985) presents a number of taxonomies of different techniques in accounting practice across the globe, which relate zones of influence both to the development of modern accounting in Scotland and England, its spread over other Anglophone cultures and the effect of alternative models on the emergence of spheres of influence. This degree of institutional changes suggests that regional differences in practices will continue to let go technical internal operations for some time to come.

Burris (1993) plots the emergence of a technocratic frame in Western development from the enlightenment through the industrial revolution to Taylorist scientific management to Veblen’s “soviet of technicians”. She argues that the technocratic rationality is the dominant paradigm for workplace organization, polarizing the internal labour market and favouring abstract diagnostic and technical activities. This paradigm carries with it a range of implicit cultural assumptions, which imply that the global diffusion of western technology is a substantively rational and inevitable process. The technocratic perspective sees cultural variation as either irrational or insignificant and not as a resource. Technocracy is gender and culture blind and incapable of acknowledging cultural differences, understanding of which is critical to smooth inter-operability. Instead a technocratic perspective sees a smooth migration of older techniques to less industrialized countries, while the core economies refine advanced technologies. There is already considerable evidence against such a simplistic view and Burris suggests that Reich (1992) demonstrates a better recognition of global implications for core economies, although still exhibiting a bias towards the expert sector. This bias allows optimistic interpretations of the impact of technologies by focusing on the beneficiaries within the workforce, rather than the affected workforce as a whole.

IT has played a significant role in the economic and social processes of globalisation. Technology does not determine social and organizational change. The spread of ICT around the world does not result in universal patterns of organizational structure and activities. The World Wide Web is only a few years old and has witnessed explosive growth in terms of the number of people connected and the amount of information available on it. It is now possible to make available an enormous amount of information to anyone with access to the Net and, increasingly, to carry out a variety of transactions from filling in and sending forms to ordering and paying for goods and services on-line. We need to harness the potential of the technologies available. But it is not simply a matter of creating web-based content: the content has to be useful, it must be easy to access and updated regularly. We also need to take special care to ensure that use of IT does not create a new class of haves and have nots. While, on the one hand, we increase the use of computers, we must also ensure that they are accessible and functional in the rural or remoter areas. This is extremely important because the technology makes it possible for a person in the remotest of areas to have access to the same information base on the internet as someone located at the heart of the most developed cities. However, if the rural communications and networking infrastructure as well as ‘information booths’ are not put in place, the technology is of no use to the people living in those areas. Internet and intranets are the important trends in new technology.

The recent advantages in information technology have opened up opportunities to provide basic government services to a much broader segment of the population with optimal quality at the desired time, place and cost. Some of the state governments have taken initiative to develop “one-stop shops” to deliver a host of services to the citizens, Technology is not culturally neutral but it is developed in a cultural context and in the case of information rich countries, IT applications carry that cultural context within their designs. Applications of culturally developed systems, such as office and management systems assume the user’s compliance with the design culture, but this inevitably leads to cultural clashes when the systems are applied outside the design context. The idea that Information Technology (IT) can be an enabling force, not only for business and trade but also for government, has now been widely accepted. However, a cursory glance at the existing initiatives in developing countries seems to suggest a mixed picture. With the exception of several worthwhile utilization of IT in particular sectors, IT applications seem to have had no remarkable effect on the manner in which citizens benefit from the services of the government. Against this backdrop, the efforts of the developing countries to harness Information Technology seem like a major initiative to deliver an improved administration.

Today’s trade is highly dependent on Information Systems. Information is the most globalized of goods & services. There is a low cost to transport information. Information work is readily traded.

A global information system supports the operations and decision making of an enterprise’s multi-country strategy. A global information system supports the operations and decision making of a person over space and time. It amplifes & attenuates information exchanges to free up conscious attention


Haywood, T. (1995), Info-Rich Info-Poor: Access and Exchange in the Global Information Society, Bowker-Saur, London.

Shepard, J. (1993), “Islands in the (data)stream: language, character codes, and electronic isolation in Japan”, in Harasim, L.M., Global Networks: Computers and International Communication, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Littleton, A.C. and Yamsey, B.S (1978), Studies in the History of Accounting, Arno Press, New York, NY.

Castells, M. and Hall, P. (1994), Technopoles of the World: The Making of 21st Century Industrial Complexes, Routledge, London.

Badham, R., Couchman, P. and Little, S. (1995), “Getting smart: developing an action research approach to the integrated management of technical and organizational innovation”, Journal of Human Systems Management, Vol. 14 No. 1.

Peters, T.J. and Waterman, R.H. Jr (1982), In Search of Excellence, Warner, New York, NY.

Lammers, C.J. and Hickson, D.J. (1979), “A cross-national and cross-institutional typology of organizations”, in Lammers, C.J. and Hickson, D.J. (Eds), Organizations Alike and Unlike:

International and Inter-institutional Studies in the Sociology of Organizations, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London.

Turner, G. (1971), Exploring the Industrial Subculture, Macmillan, London.

Eldridge, J.E.T. and Crombie, A.D. (1974), A Sociology of Organizations, Allen & Unwin, London.

Glaser, B. and Strauss, A.L. (1967), The Discovery of Grounded Theory, Aldine, Chicago, IL.

Thompson, J.D. (1967), Organizations in Action, McGraw-Hill, NJ.

Percy-Smith, Janie (1996), Downloading Democracy? Information and Communication Technologies in Local Politics. Policy and Politics 24 (1): 43-56.

Perry, James L. and Kenneth L. Kraemer (1993), The Implications of Changing Technology. In Frank J. Thompson, ed. Revitalizing State and Local Public Service: Strengthening Performance, Accountability and Citizen Confidence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass: 225-245.

Mankin, Don, Cohen, Susan G., and Tora K. Bikson (1996), Teams and Technology: Fulfilling the Promise of the New Organization. Boston: Harvard Business School.


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