The Rhetoric of Culture as an Act of Closure in a Cross-National Software Development Department

Rasmus Eskild Jensen, Bonnie Nardi

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Global software teams work on interdependent tasks across geographies, time zones, and cultures. Studies of cross-national software teams report that the main challenges are sharing knowledge, creating trust, and establishing common ground. In this study we examine another challenge—the use of the word “culture” as an exclusionary act of closure. As theorized by Metiu, who builds on Weber, closure occurs when one group seeks to preserve the advantages of their situation relative to another group. We conducted an ethnographic study of a cross-national software department with members in Denmark and the Philippines. We found that “culture” was invoked by employees in the Danish office to explain failed collaborations, but not by employees in the Philippines. Filipino employees formulated other explanations for problems, and actively resisted cultural explanations. We argue that employees in the Danish office used a “rhetoric of culture” as an act of closure, and we focus on technology choices and behavior as they were impacted by closure.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Conference on Information Systems, Proceedings : ECIS 2014
Number of pages15
Publication dateJun 2014
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9915567-0-0
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
EventEuropean Conference on Information Systems - David Intercontinental Hotel, 12 Kaufman Street, Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
Duration: 9 Jun 201411 Jun 2014
Conference number: 22


ConferenceEuropean Conference on Information Systems
LocationDavid Intercontinental Hotel, 12 Kaufman Street, Tel Aviv
CityTel Aviv
Internet address


  • Closure
  • Exclusion
  • Cross-national software development teams
  • Rhetoric of culture


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