The impact of cultural context on corporate web sites: a New Zealand and South Korean comparison
This study examines the impact of national culture on the content of corporate Web sites, and Web users’ attitudes and intentions toward culturally congruent or incongruent Web sites. In this work, culturally bipolar clusters based on Hofstede’s (1991) and Hall’s (1976) cultural dimensions are conceptualised. New Zealand and Korea are chosen as representatives of the respective bipolar clusters. This research utilises both content analysis and experimental research to provide deep insight into an area which has not yet been explored. Two studies are undertaken, Study One, focusing on the content analysis, examines how the use of visual communication and Web features differs between the two countries and between industry types. Study Two assesses Web users’ predispositions to respond favourably or unfavourably to the Web site. Web users’ perceptions, measured by experimental research with four culturally manipulated Web sites, are assumed to be the most suitable concept for studying the effectiveness of Web sites. Three ethnic groups are involved: Korean university students, New Zealand university students, and English-Korean bilingual university students. The findings reveal differences in the content of corporate Web sites from the two countries. However, these results do not support the findings of extant research. The results show that the corporate Web sites studied can be distinguished not only by the two national cultures, but also by other significant factors such as a company’s characteristics, its online presence strategy, national broadband infrastructure, and unique Internet culture. Additionally, the segment of young adults shows a convergence of cultural value systems which can be attributed to the fact that young adults in both countries have similar perceptions toward corporate Web sites regardless of their nationalities. Language structure and local terminology on the Web sites, however, are still important. This study contributes to knowledge by providing critical insights into the effectiveness and cultural congruence of Web sites. The results will benefit both academics and practitioners.