My master thesis

Exploring communication challenges in global IT projects

The IT outsourcing market is huge and still booming. It is forecast to reach $287 billion in 2013. The market will record a 6, 5 % annual growth rate from 2013 through 2017 (Gartner, 2013). Previous research about off-shoring points at communication as one of the biggest challenges (A. T. Kearney, 2007). Gartner and Boston Consulting Group found that 50 % of offshore outsourcing contracts signed by North-American companies failed to meet their expectations (Moe, Smite, Hanssen, & Barney, 2013). There has been done research in Norway (Sintef, 2012) which indicates that working with Indians is particular difficult because of Indian culture. The fact that other countries manage to work with Indians is the interesting.

After having worked with this as a professional for a number of years, I now have got the opportunity to study this challenge as a master-student at the University of Oslo.

The communication model at its purest is quite simple. A sender has a message (something that he/she wants to communicate) to the receiver. The sender then codes the message, chose a communication channel (oral, e-mail, letter, body language…) and send it to the receiver who then decodes it.

communication model



 (Thomas & Inkson, 2009, p. 88).

The main challenge is when the sender and receiver don’t share the same cultural field. One example is a word as simple as “family”. In some cultures family is basically the nuclear family. Other places it can mean the extended family. In some cultures it is common that a person is unmarried even if at an old age. While in other cultures a man is expected to have a number of wife’s. If such a simple word as family can be misunderstood how then with more complicated phrases?

This is exactly what I’m looking into explore in more details in my current research. Right now I’m conducting interviews with a number of people from different cultures to try to find out what they see as the biggest challenges in their daily communication. In my interviews there are a number of questions I want to get answered. These questions include but are not limited to; what are the most important challenges in the multi-cultural communication? What measures are taken when problems arises? How important is the use of a communication plan and offshore middle-men (Mahnke, Wareham, & Bjorn-Andersen, 2008, p. 18). What communication channels are in use in the organization?

The documents at the bottom of the page include more information about the research.

A. T. Kearney, 2007. The Offshore Culture Clash, New York: A. T. Kearney.

Gartner, 2013. ForecastAnalysis: IT Outsourcing, Worldwide 2011-2017, 1Q13 Update, Stamford, CT: Gartner Group.

Mahnke, V., Wareham, J. & Bjorn-Andersen, N., 2008. Offshore middlemen: transnational intermediation in technology sourcing. Journal of Information Technology, pp. 18-30.

Moe, N. B., Smite, D., Hanssen, G. K. & Barney, H., 2013. From offshore outsourcing to insourcing and partnership: four failed outsourcing attempts. Empir Software Eng.

Sintef, 2012. Bad business outsourcing to India. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 23 August 2013].

Thomas, D. C. & Inkson, K., 2009. Cultural Intelligence: Living and Working Globally. Second ed. s.l.:Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

ITLED5390 – Master Thesis v3   Presentation of my thesis

4040 Project thesis v10 endelig   Methodology description

2 thoughts on “My master thesis

  1. 🙂 “family” word.
    This was the first cultural shock for me when i came to Scandanavia.
    My manager at asked me if i had a family in India .
    I said “Yes”.
    Then she asked me if i was “Married”.
    i said “No”.
    Then she asked if i had any “Children”.
    And this is actually a joke in india when someone asks
    “Shaadi ho gayi” (are you married)
    you say “NO”.
    then he asks “Kitne bachche hai ” (how many kids you have).

    To me my family was ” my parents”.
    to her family meant i had a partner and even if i was not married , it was ok to have children.

    6 years down the lane , i think it was so obvious for her to ask about children if i had family,

    Great blog.

  2. Hi Karsten,

    Very interesting research. I’m a CS student at Stanford and an SF Bay Area native, but this summer I’m going to Hyderabad to potentially start a business. I was wondering if I could get access to your paper (I noticed that you should be done with your Masters by mid-2014) because I’m sure there is a lot I could learn from it.


    Govinda Dasu (Govi)

    Do shoot me an email at and if you have some time, I’d love to talk on google hangout or something.

    P.S. couple typos on your blog: “the interesting” should just read “interesting”, “wife’s” should read “wives”


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