Systemic Determinants of the Information Systems Outsourcing Decision: A Comparative Study of German and United States Firms



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Journal of the Association for Information Systems


The practice of information systems (IS) outsourcing is widely established among organizations. Nonetheless, evidence suggests that organizations differ considerably in the extent to which they deploy IS outsourcing. This variation has motivated research into the determinants of the IS outsourcing decision. Most of this research is based on the assumption that a decision on the outsourcing of a particular IS function is made independently of other IS functions. This modular view ignores the systemic nature of the IS function, which posits that IS effectiveness depends on how the various IS functions work together effectively. This study proposes that systemic influences are important criteria in evaluating the outsourcing option. It further proposes that the recognition of systemic influences in outsourcing decisions is culturally sensitive. Specifically, we provide evidence that systemic effects are factored into the IS outsourcing decision differently in more individualist cultures than in collectivist ones. Our results of a survey of United States and German firms indicate that perceived in-house advantages in the systemic impact of an IS function are, indeed, a significant determinant of IS outsourcing in a moderately individualist country (i.e., Germany), whereas insignificant in a strongly individualist country (i.e., the United States). The country differences are even stronger with regard to perceived in-house advantages in the systemic view of IS professionals. In fact, the direction of this impact is reversed in the United States sample. Other IS outsourcing determinants that were included as controls, such as cost efficiency, did not show significant country differences.



Outsourcing Determinants, Cross-Cultural, Group Comparison, PLS, Multi-Group Structural Equation Modeling, System Theory, Transaction Cost Economics, Resource-Based Theory, Institutional Theory, Power Theory, Individualism-Collectivism


Copyright 2012 Journal of the Association for Information Systems. Recommended citation: Dibbern, Jens, Wynne W. Chin, and Armin Heinzl. "Systemic determinants of the information systems outsourcing decision: A comparative study of German and United States firms." Journal of the Association for Information Systems 13, no. 6 (2012): 1. URL: Reproduced in accordance with the original publisher's licensing terms and with permission from the author(s).