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Abstract

Cultural dimensions are often identified as a crucial influence on the success or failure of Information Systems in general and Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM) in particular. Several researchers have suggested ways in which management can accommodate these dimensions or solve the problems they may pose. Ali& Alshawi (2005) have proposed a cultural concerns framework for the management of CRM systems implementation in the multinational environment. In this paper the authors test that framework by conducting a qualitative comparative case study in a large multinational organization in two countries. The authors have investigated the implementation of CRM systems within the same organization in both Egypt and the UK. Using observation, document analysis and interviews, qualitative data has been elicited and used a Soft Systems Methodology (SSM) analysis to determine themes for each case study. The result is a framework of cultural dimensions for management of CRM systems, within multinational environment organizations.

Keywords CRM, Culture, Cross-Cultural, Qualitative, Case Study, Soft Systems Methodology, Structuration Theory, UK, Egypt.

۱٫ INTRODUCTION

In a competitive market, companies try to build a relationship with their existing customers as the cost of attracting new customers is higher than retaining these existing customers. To build a relationship with customer is a socio-technical process. The most important factor in that process is to understand how that customer values, norms, thoughts, perceptions, etc., are alike. Multinational organization deal with customers from many different cultures. CRM systems in multinational organizations are built to attract new customers, increase customers’ value and retain customers, and in all cases these may be with different customers and from different cultures. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are the most cited reference about culture within IS literature (McCoy 2003). Ali, and Alshawi (2005) have proposed a comprehensive cultural dimensions framework, including Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, through a normative survey of the culture literature within and outside of IS literature. In this paper the authors test that framework by conducting a comparative qualitative case study in a large multinational organization in two different countries, Egypt and UK. The authors use a Structurational analysis (based on concepts of Structuration Theory (ST) by Giddens (1979, 1984)) to derive the cultural dimensions which may influence the CRM implementation and operation in a multinational environment. The structure of this paper is as follows: in section two explores the problem background. It summarises literature about culture within IS, briefly explores the background literature on Structuration Theory within IS and then highlights Structuration Theory as a way of looking at social and cultural phenomena within the IS discipline. The research problem explicitly deals with social construction and so calls for an interpretative research approach which is detailed in section three. This includes a description of the qualitative comparative case study conducted in a commercial multinational company in Egypt and the UK. Section four discusses SSM as way of asking questions about the real world case study. Combining the resulting qualitative data analysis with ST allows the development of themes within each case study. This can then be used as a basis to validate Ali and Alshawi (2005) cultural dimensions framework for the management of CRM implementation and operation in the multinational environment. Finally, section five concludes with a summary and proposing directions for possible future research.

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