The impact of cultural values on email acceptance : evidence from the PRC

  • Linjun HUANG

Student thesis: PhD Thesis (Lingnan)


Global deployment in information technology (IT) requires understandings of the cultural constraints in technology acceptance and usage behavior. Prior research indicates that the salient technology acceptance models may not be applicable to all cultures since empirical support was mainly obtained from North America. Cultural impact on user acceptance is still at the early stage of research. There has been little research done on technology acceptance and usage behavior in the context of China, which exhibits distinctive cultural differences from countries in North America. The purpose of this thesis is to test the cross-cultural applicability of Technology Acceptance Model in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and to investigate the influence of cultural values on user acceptance of IT.

Based on a synthesis of technology acceptance and cultural theories, this study incorporates work related cultural values into Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). The four cultural values of individualism/collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity/femininity identified by Hofstede are posited to either directly influence or to moderate user acceptance to email in the context of the PRC.

Data were collected from the banking industry in the PRC. Cultural values were measured at the individual level to avoid over generalizations of cultural typology and to remedy the inadequacy of post hoc explanation in conventional IS cultural studies. Instead of using the scores of national culture proposed by Hofstede’s cultural study in 1980, this study measures cultural values in terms of personal traits to reflect the changes in and the complexity of cultural values in face of a two-decades of societal change.

Structural equation models (SEMs) and moderated structural equation models (MSEMs) are used in the study to explore the direct impact and the moderating effect of cultural values. Confirmatory factor analysis and structural path analysis using LISREL were performed to analyze data collected.

The findings show that cultural values have both direct impact and moderation effect on user acceptance to email. The TAM general model was found to be applicable in the Chinese context. Collectivism was found to be an antecedent of Subjective Norms, while Masculinity has no significant influence on Perceived Usefulness. In addition, Power Distance was found to moderate the relationship between Subjective Norms and Intention to Use email; while Uncertainty Avoidance moderates the relationship between Perceived Ease of Use and Perceived Usefulness of email.

The findings are expected to provide insights that can help international businesses to enhance technology acceptance across national boundaries. An understanding of the relationship between cultural values and technology acceptance should help organizations understand the influence of core societal values on email acceptance and so to better utilize social and cultural practices in organizational technology diffusion. This study suggests a few guidelines for better utilizing computer mediated communication technology in regard to the cultural challenges.
Date of Award2003
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Department of Computing and Decision Sciences
SupervisorMing Te LU (Supervisor)

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