Culture is related to the way we give logic to the world and begins at birth with gestures, words, tone of voice, noises, colors, smells, and body contact we experience . Our culture is what is familiar, recognizable, habitual, it is “what goes without saying”, “what is normal”. Yet, culture is a multifaceted concept, and can be attributed to a nation, an organization, a group or even an individual, because it is shaped by one’s social environment . Therefore, culture is a sensitive subject and not the depiction of wooden stereotypes . Yet, common characteristics may exist that distinguish one culture from another . In our work, we focus on the impact of the national culture and the organizational culture on the ways of working.
National cultures and cultural differences have been studied in-depth by several social scientists (e.g.  and  to name a few). These studies resulted in several overlapping cultural characteristics that are common for representatives of a particular nation. National culture may determine preferred leadership styles and decision-making processes, perceptions of authorities, attitude towards time, need for formalization, preferred communication and interaction styles, business etiquette and motivation tools . Similarly to organizational incompatibilities with the method in use [6, 11], incompatibilities in the national backgrounds and the differences in the ways of working can prove problematic [10, 14]. In fact, the larger the degree of difference in organizations and national cultures, the larger the cultural distance between the parties involved . In the following, we first explain what characterizes agile ways of working and what organizational culture is conducive for successful adoption of agile methodology, and then summarize research studies related to the challenges of introducing agile ways of working in Asia, relevant for our empirical study.
2.1 Agile Ways of Working and Organizational Culture
Agile ways of working stem from a group of methods united by a common philosophy, values, and principles. It emphasizes teamwork and heavily relies on the ability of a software team to self-manage [8, 19]. The principles of self-management and autonomy, central to agile ways of working, put certain demand on the organizational culture, team composition and behavioural norms [8, 21, 28]. Morgan  emphasises the importance of teams’ ability to engage in self-learning and drive continuous improvement, and ability to act upon minimum critical specification. van Solingen et al.  argue that the prerequisites for improvement and learning are openness and the ability to discuss the underlying problems. Based on two large surveys of agile teams, Williams captures practices essential for teams to be considered agile being related to their ability to satisfy the customer through early, continuous and frequent delivery of valuable, working software; the prerequisite for which is, among others, staffing projects with motivated individuals who are given the needed resources and authority to get their job done .
A number of studies investigated the relationship between organizational culture and the use of agile methods [8, 12, 13, 29]. Based on a multi-case study of nine projects Strode et al.  found that specific organizational culture factors correlate with effective use of an agile method. Their findings suggest that an organization is more likely to be successful if the organization values feedback and learning; social interaction in the organization is trustful, collaborative, and competent; the project manager acts as a facilitator; the management style is that of leadership and collaboration; the organization values teamwork is flexible and participative and encourages social interaction; the organization enables empowerment of people; the organization is results oriented; leadership in the organization is entrepreneurial, innovative, and risk taking; and the organization is based on loyalty and mutual trust and commitment . Similar findings emerged from studying 58 agile practitioners from 23 organizations in New Zealand and India . Hoda et al. found that the prerequisite for self-organizing agile teams to establish and flourish is senior management support, in terms of providing freedom and establishing an organizational culture of trust. They also suggest that an organization with a strict hierarchical structure is not conducive to self-organizing agile teams, because the hierarchy enforces a lack of openness marked by restricted and indirect lines of communication and feedback, which in turn leads to an environment of fear . Based on a multi-case study, Kautz et al.  found that agile development thrives in different organizational cultures, even in hierarchical ones, as long as the 4 core values are present to a significant extent. Furthermore, they argue that while organizational culture has an impact on the way agile development is enacted, in practice it is often the method which is adjusted to the organization. Similarly, Iivari et al. argue that the relationship between an organizational culture and agile ways of working is dynamic and therefore will continuously evolve . This means that time perspective matters and studies on the compatibility between the culture and agile ways of working shall take the dynamic nature of this relationship into account.
Another reason to look at the organizational culture from a time perspective is the staff changes. When adding new people to an already established agile team, it is essential to support the new team members in adapting to the existing teams culture and ways of working, which is especially difficult in virtual setups. In their study of onboarding Portuguese developers into existing Norwegian agile teams , Moe et al. conclude that the most important success factor is finding people that matched the culture of the existing teams. Therefore, during an onboarding process, all interviews and visits need to focus on communicating the values and culture and on giving insight into the existing organization’s norms.
2.2 Agile Adoption in Asian Countries
Since, national culture is said to have significant influence on the organizational culture  and organizational culture may impact the use and success of agile ways of working [13, 29], there is interest in understanding the use of agile methods and practices in companies located outside the locations of early adopters of agile methods. In particular, researchers and practitioners have wondered about the abilities of the companies and engineers from the Asian region, the primary recipients of offshoring contracts, to adopt the agile ways of working, which are so distinct to their national culture.
To address these questions, a number of studies sought evidence of successful use of agile methods in offshored projects [10, 25]. Some researchers infer the successful adoption from the large number of practices reported as being followed [2, 32]. However, the validity of these studies as well as the research approach are questionable, because high level of commitment to the use of agile practices can be explained by the readiness to accept the established rules in hierarchical (i.e., high power distance) cultures, as found, for example, in a study of agile adoption in Malaysia . Other research studies tried to improve the understanding of what specifically impedes the adoption of agile ways of working in Asian cultures [1, 5, 8, 14, 15, 30] and how to succeed [8, 25]. In Table 1, we summarize a list of impeding behaviors reported on the managerial and engineering levels in related studies.
The cited studies cover different countries within the Asian region, including India [5, 8, 27, 30], Malaysia and Singapore  and Asia Pacific in general , and are either based on interviews or own experiences.
A closer look at behaviors of engineers in India and neighboring countries reveals that most if not all impeding behaviors are likely to be caused by the hierarchical culture of the organizations and related management behavior, as suggested in related research [8, 29]. For example, Ayed et al.  report that Malaysian and Singapore engineers lacked the freedom to decide about their ways of working and therefore did not see the point in self-learning. But what if the hierarchical culture of command-and-control highlighted in numerous studies as poisonous to the agile ways of working [1, 5, 10, 14, 15, 30] would be replaced with the more empowering onshore management; would the offshore engineers working in mixed onshore-offshore teams be able to adopt the agile ways of working? Or would the less hierarchical Western companies fail to ignite the agile culture in their offshore collaborations? The answers to these questions are of high importance for shaping the understanding of the compatibility of agile ways of working with the use of offshoring.