An Empirical Study on How the Moderating Effects of Individual Cultural Characteristics towards a Specific Target Affects User Experience: Based on the Survey Results of Four Types of Digital Device Users in the US, Germany, and Russia

특정 대상에 대한 개인 수준의 문화적 성향이 사용자 경험에 미치는 조절효과에 대한 실증적 연구: 미국, 독일, 러시아의 4개 디지털 기기 사용자를 대상으로

  • Published : 2009.03.31

Abstract

Recently, due to the globalization of the IT(Information Technology) market, devices and systems designed in one country are used in other countries as well. This phenomenon is becoming the key factor for increased interest on cross-cultural, or cross-national, research within the IT area. However, as the IT market is becoming bigger and more globalized, a great number of IT practitioners are having difficulty in designing and developing devices or systems which can provide optimal experience. This is because not only tangible factors such as language and a country's economic or industrial power affect the user experience of a certain device or system but also invisible and intangible factors as well. Among such invisible and intangible factors, the cultural characteristics of users from different countries may affect the user experience of certain devices or systems because cultural characteristics affect how they understand and interpret the devices or systems. In other words, when users evaluate the quality of overall user experience, the cultural characteristics of each user act as a perceptual lens that leads the user to focus on a certain elements of experience. Therefore, there is a need within the IT field to consider cultural characteristics when designing or developing certain devices or systems and plan a strategy for localization. In such an environment, existing IS studies identify the culture with the country, emphasize the importance of culture in a national level perspective, and hypothesize that users within the same country have same cultural characteristics. Under such assumptions, these studies focus on the moderating effects of cultural characteristics on a national level within a certain theoretical framework. This has already been suggested by cross-cultural studies conducted by scholars such as Hofstede(1980) in providing numerical research results and measurement items for cultural characteristics and using such results or items as they increase the efficiency of studies. However, such national level culture has its limitations in forecasting and explaining individual-level behaviors such as voluntary device or system usage. This is because individual cultural characteristics are the outcome of not only the national culture but also the culture of a race, company, local area, family, and other groups that are formulated through interaction within the group. Therefore, national or nationally dominant cultural characteristics may have its limitations in forecasting and explaining the cultural characteristics of an individual. Moreover, past studies in psychology suggest a possibility that there exist different cultural characteristics within a single individual depending on the subject being measured or its context. For example, in relation to individual vs. collective characteristics, which is one of the major cultural characteristics, an individual may show collectivistic characteristics when he or she is with family or friends but show individualistic characteristics in his or her workplace. Therefore, this study acknowledged such limitations of past studies and conducted a research within the framework of 'theoretically integrated model of user satisfaction and emotional attachment', which was developed through a former study, on how the effects of different experience elements on emotional attachment or user satisfaction are differentiated depending on the individual cultural characteristics related to a system or device usage. In order to do this, this study hypothesized the moderating effects of four cultural dimensions (uncertainty avoidance, individualism vs, collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, and power distance) as suggested by Hofstede(1980) within the theoretically integrated model of emotional attachment and user satisfaction. Statistical tests were then implemented on these moderating effects through conducting surveys with users of four digital devices (mobile phone, MP3 player, LCD TV, and refrigerator) in three countries (US, Germany, and Russia). In order to explain and forecast the behavior of personal device or system users, individual cultural characteristics must be measured, and depending on the target device or system, measurements must be measured independently. Through this suggestion, this study hopes to provide new and useful perspectives for future IS research.

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