Much of the research in information systems and information technology (IS/IT) has been dominated by a U.S-centric or a Western-centric view.  Research paradigms and models developed for the U.S. and Western Europe are just that; they are applicable primarily to the western context.  Unsuspecting researchers have taken the same models and applied them to other nations, e.g., underdeveloped countries, emerging economies, transitional economies, and middle-eastern countries.  The results have been mid-guided and spurious in many cases.

This is not to suggest that serious efforts have not been made by selected investigators to address unique issues in various regions of the world using paradigms applicable to the context.  In fact, some have risen to the challenge in limited domains. But these efforts have been limited at best.  What is sorely lacking is a world view that tries to understand the major IS issues in the world in the context of their unique cultural, economic, political, religious and societal environments.  If we are able to accomplish this rather expansive goal, it will not be purely an academic exercise; although the contributions to academic research will be enormous.

A good understanding of the critical IT issues facing firms and their employees and their surrounding context will be important from the firm, national, and international points of view.  At the firm level, it would help management and staff in formulating business and IT policies and strategies.  At the national level, it would allow stakeholders, such as policymakers, government and vendors in addressing the pressing issues of the times.  In international business, it would help firms and governments in responding to the needs of partners and stakeholders in other countries.  A comparative examination across countries and world regions would help facilitate global understanding, cooperation, and knowledge transfer among many nationalities. At the academic level, it will provide researchers with a grounded understanding of the international IT environment, and provide a validated framework to launch many international IT studies.

Professor Prashant Palvia at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the Project Leader, made the call to undertake this research several years ago – but it remained unfulfilled to date due to many reasons: lack of resources, need for an international collaboration among willing investigators, cross-border coordination and project management, the sheer amount of effort and time required to accomplish the goals, the lack of incentives and rewards, and most importantly a well-articulated vision and plan.

Fortunately, this has changed and we were able to launch the “World IT Project”.  I (Prashant Palvia) will try to describe its major elements. The mission of the project is stated below:

The World IT Project is designed to examine important issues confronting IT employees, both staff and management, in many countries of the world.  The proposed project requires survey data collection from different countries, representing different cultures, levels of economic growth, societal and religious beliefs, and political systems. More than forty countries from all parts of the globe will be targeted for this research. In terms of scope, the project is akin to Hofstede’s research on culture and the GLOBE project.