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What is Global Information Technology

What is Global Information Technology

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Published by Thanda Pola

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Published by: Thanda Pola on Sep 13, 2012
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What is Global Information Technology?The emerging sub-discipline of Global Information Technology (GIT) is also referred to within theInformation Systems (IS) discipline as Global Information Technology Management, as InternationalInformation Systems, and as Global Management Information Systems.GIT encompasses multiple levels of analysis:
 
the nation(s), or international policy-making body.
 
the firm(s), the MultiNational Enterprise (MNE) or the IT vendors
 
the group(s) or team(s)
 
the individual
 
the technology overlayReferent Disciplines: Clearly, these five levels of analysis look to numerous referent disciplines: PoliticalScience, Economics, Law, Management, International Business, Human-computer interface, Cross-cultural studies, Sociology, Psychology, Telecommunications, Computer Science.Motivation for the emergence of the GIT sub-discipline.The obvious reason: the 1980s brought about increased levels of business globalization, internationaltrade and competitiveness, and corresponding use of IT on a global basis including increased systemsintegration and convergence.The not-so obvious reason: GIT is a result of the traditional US-centric discipline of IS that has awoken tothe practical and intellectual needs of examining IS (and IT) in the global context, rather than as a genericcountry-agnostic construct, or one in which US issues dominate the research agenda. This is why, in part,one finds "IT in country X," or "IT in (non-US firm) Y" as a legitimate area of research in GIT...at thisstage.A third reason relates to the impact of culture on the development, implementation and use of IT aroundthe world. With the move away from ethnocentrism, so increaseed attention is being paid to the impactsthat culture, in its myriad variations, exerts.Agenda & Issues. Two important articles that define GIT research follow. Noteworthy here is that whilethe first article's largest level of analysis is the firm (or set of firms) the second article lists four issues thatare the national level of analysis.
 
Based on detailed interviews with IS executives charged with managing international IS, Ives andJarvenpaa (1991) outline a global IS research agenda with four areas: (1) matching global IS strategy toglobal business strategy; (2) issues involving the technical platform for global IS applications; (3) issuesinvolved in international sharing of data; and (4) issues of IS projects spanning cultures. Ives, B. andJarvenpaa, S. .... Management Information Systems Quarterly....In a "key issues" study, Dean & Ricks grouped issues for GIT into the following categories: (1)managerial/strategic, (2) technological/application, (3) host country social/cultural, (4) host countryeconomic, (5) host country technological, and (6) host country political/legal. Deans, P.C. and Ricks,D.A. "MIS Research: A Model for Incorporating the International Dimension," The Journal of HighTechnology Management Research, 2, 1, 1991, 57-81
 
IntroductionInternational commerce, characterized by near instantaneous trans-continental shifts in financial assets,assembly of products with components from all corners of the globe, and shifting populations of cross-border employees, has burgeoned over the past 20 years. At the same time, the development anddistribution of computer and information technology has grown exponentially. New hardware andsoftware devices are brought to market each week. Investment in these technologies continues to grow.The number of employees working with information technology also continues to grow.These two phenomena, growth of global economic activity and of information technology, are notunrelated (Nanus, 1978; Bankes, et. al., 1992). Near instantaneous cross-continental cash managementactivities (Rochester, 1991), for example, could not take place without quick, reliable, and affordabletelecommunications technology.The simultaneity of these two trends, growth in information technology and globalization of business,raises interesting theoretical questions regarding the direction of influences between these two forces. Towhat extent does the growing power of information technology enable globalization? To what extent doesincreased globalization create demand and markets for ever more refined information technology? Do thenew technologies enable firms to consider new markets and new activities? Do the desires of firms forinternational activities create demand for new technologies? Are uses for information technology in aglobal setting merely the logical extension of domestic information technologies? Does operatinginternationally create new areas of decision making such as the structure for direct foreign investment(Iyer, 1988)?While there has long been some interest in global IS (e.g. Buss, 1982; Selig, 1982a; Selig, 1982b), issueswithin the U.S. business context have dominated I.S. research to date. However, as economic competitionamong nations and global commerce have grown in importance and attracted more attention, I.S.researchers are beginning to ask how their field is affected by changing from a domestic to global context.This growing interest among I.S. researchers is paralleled by a growing interest in global trends amongorganizational and management researchers. This is reflected in recent Academy of Management Review(April 1991) and Management Science (January 1994) special issues focusing on the internationalizationof management theory. Researchers in global IS are confronted with some of the same problems anddecisions as their counterparts in organizational and management research. Among these problems are:What do we really know with confidence about MIS domestically within particular countries? Is itsufficient to test what these concepts in cross-cultural settings? Do new issues emerge only in the globalcontext? By studying MIS in a global context, can we universalize our understanding of what occursdomestically (or will the lessons learned be so diluted that they are of little value in any particularsituation)?

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