Tribes of Users and System Developers

  • Sharon Dingley
  • Hanifa Shah
  • Paul Colder
Keywords: users, systems developers, communication, culture


Effective communication is essential for information systems development crossing functional, organisational and national boundaries. As organisations attempt to overcome cultural barriers to communication across the world, communication with colleagues across the corridor remains problematic; cultural barriers between departments remain unchallenged. This paper introduces the concepts of 'culture' and 'tribe' into the discussion of the relationship between business users and information systems developers. Previous research has focused on identifying specific barriers to user-systems developer communication and on ways of eliminating these barriers. In contrast, this paper suggests that much can be learnt through the recognition of cultural differences inherent to the differing roles of user and systems developer. Maintenance of cultural identity is essential to the individual if he/she is to function effectively as a member of his/her tribe, whether it is the 'tribe' of developers or the 'tribe' of users. Communication problems within the systems development process may be addressed by a mutual understanding of cultural differences between the 'tribes' of users and systems developers. This degree of understanding cannot be achieved by attempting to change, persuade or convert the other tribe. The problems of user-systems developer communication need to be addressed through effective communication which acknowledges the differing cultures.
How to Cite
Dingley, S., Shah, H., & Colder, P. (1). Tribes of Users and System Developers. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 7(2).