Information Systems Frontiers

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 243–258 | Cite as

The impact of cultural differences in offshore outsourcing—Case study results from German–Indian application development projects



Offshore outsourcing to vendors in foreign countries causes unique challenges which need to be understood and managed effectively. This paper explores cultural differences in IS offshoring arrangements involving German client organizations that outsource application development activities to Indian vendors. For this purpose, a research framework is developed based on both theoretical considerations and specific empirical observations from multiple case studies. The goal is to (1) explore the nature of cultural differences in offshore outsourcing arrangements in depth and to (2) analyze the relationship between those cultural differences and offshore outsourcing success. Based on the case findings, implications and practices for the management of offshore development projects are outlined. The results indicate that cultural differences in terms of power distance, IS designer values, and an active versus passive working attitude critically affect several dimensions of relationship quality, thereby influencing offshore outsourcing success. A clear definition of roles and mechanisms, strong leadership, and an active management of culture by adapting to either the client’s or the vendor’s national culture appeared to be effective ways to manage cultural differences.


Offshoring Outsourcing Cultural differences Application development Case study 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica K. Winkler
    • 1
  • Jens Dibbern
    • 2
  • Armin Heinzl
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of General Management and Information SystemsUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  2. 2.Department of General Management and Information SystemsUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany
  3. 3.Department of General Management and Information SystemsUniversity of MannheimMannheimGermany

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