Vive la différence: Communicating across cultural boundaries in cross-gender online collaborative discussions

David Gefen, Nitza Geri, Narasimha Paravastu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The differences among peoples and how their respective culture and history may affect their adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT), as well as their preferred usage patterns, are often discussed in the literature. But do we really need to look that far to find such cross-cultural differences? Considering language is one of the major defining attributes of culture, this chapter takes a sociolinguistic approach to argue that there is a cross-cultural aspect to ICT adoption also within the same culture. Sociolinguists have claimed for years that to a large extent, communication between men and women, even within the supposedly same culture, has such characteristics due to their different underlying social objectives which affect their communication patterns. This chapter examines this sociolinguistic perspective in the context of online courses, where students are often requested to collaborate with their classmates in online threaded discussions. Although the stage is set in online courses to smother cultural and gender differences if participants wish to do so, a key finding is that gender based cultural patterns still emerge. These differences were strong enough to allow significant identification of the student gender, despite the gender neutral context of the course discussions. Implications for ICT in general in view of this Vive la Différence are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationVirtual Team Leadership and Collaborative Engineering Advancements
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Issues and Implications
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781605661100
StatePublished - 2009


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